Ireland captain William Porterfield has expressed satisfaction at the way his team’s bowlers have been able to bowl out oppositions in the ICC Intercontinental Cup after defeating Hong Kong by 70 runs on Friday for a fourth consecutive win in the tournament.
The victory took four-time champion Ireland back to the top of the points table at 80 points, running up a 19-point lead over second-placed Afghanistan after four matches each. The Netherlands is third with 46 points while Hong Kong is tied at fourth place with Scotland at 30 points in the eight-team tournament, which is the pathway to Test cricket.
The winning side will get an opportunity to play the 10th-ranked Test side in the ICC Test Challenge in 2018 and then try to acquire Test status until the next event in 2022, provided it wins the challenge.
Porterfield felt his team was in control but praised opposition batsman Nizakat Khan’s fighting 123 in the second innings after Hong Kong had been set a 310-run target in the four-day match.
“There was plenty of time left in the game, an hour and fifty minutes. I thought the wickets before and after lunch put the brakes on them. Nizakat got a very good hundred, all credit to him.”
Left-arm spinner George Dockrell finished with five wickets in the match while pace bowlers Tim Murtagh and Peter Chase took four each.
Porterfield said his team’s next aim is to beat former-champion Afghanistan in Greater Noida, India, in March 2017.
“Afghanistan is the next challenge ahead and we are going to play them in Delhi, in their conditions. It’s going to be a good test. There is going to be something for the slow bowlers, something we have to prepare for. We want to beat Afghanistan in its own backyard,” Porterfield said.
Hong Kong captain Babar Hayat said he was disappointed at the loss but felt it had been a good learning curve.
“I think it’s a disappointing loss but a lot of positives to take. The team played a really good game. If you see how many more games they have played compared to us it’s a huge difference, so we are a good young side but we have a lot to learn.
“We were never thinking we were going to lose this game – even when we were eight down and fighting - at that moment we still thought we could win. The first innings lead was crucial – because we bowled really well in both innings – the target was chase-able but unfortunately our batting didn’t pick up.”
“Nizakat batted really well in the first innings but getting a hundred in the second innings has really shown what he can do – it’s a huge positive for us going into the rest of the tour,” Hayat said.
Ireland 316 (Gary Wilson 95, William Porterfield 88, George Dockrell 32, Tanwir Afzal 4-63, Nadeem Ahmed 4-73) and 230 (John Anderson 59, Ed Joyce 37, Afzal 3-53, Ahmed 3-65) .
Hong Kong 237 (Nizakat Khan 69, Anshuman Rath 73 not out, Dockrell 3-46, Peter Chase 3-50) and 239 (Nizakat Khan 123, Tim Murtagh 3-29, Dockrell 2-57, Kevin O’Brien 2-36).
Result: Ireland won by 70 runs.
Points: Ireland 20, Hong Kong 0
Next match: Papua New Guinea v Namibia, Port Moresby, Oct. 17-20.