Ireland bowlers made to work hard in Sharjah

Draw looks the most likely outcome going into final day

Ireland spinner George Dockrell leads an Ireland appeal during the Intercontinental Cup game in Sharjah.  Photograph: Barry Chambers/Inpho

Ireland spinner George Dockrell leads an Ireland appeal during the Intercontinental Cup game in Sharjah. Photograph: Barry Chambers/Inpho


Ireland’s bowlers had to toil for meagre returns on the third day of their Intercontinental Cup clash with the United Arab Emirates, with a draw looking the likely outcome going into the final day’s play in Sharjah.

A flurry of wickets just after tea saw the home side go from 210 for one to 248 for six in the space of 15 overs, but a 54-run stand between Swapnil Patil and Saqib Shah saw the UAE close on 302 for six at stumps.

Veteran all-rounder Khurram Khan had earlier made 115, combining with opener Arshad Ali (95) in a 187-run stand for the second wicket on a pitch still offering very little to the Irish bowlers

Their patience and perseverance was eventually rewarded when Trent Johnston took the new ball straight after tea, when he nipped one back to trap Khan in front of his stumps.

George Dockrell was soon brought back into the attack, striking with back-to-back deliveries to see off Ali and Shaiman Anwar.

Either side of the drinks break, John Mooney also chipped in with two wickets, before the seventh-wicket pairing got through the final hour of play.

The UAE will start the day still over 280 runs adrift of Ireland’s first-innings total and will be keen to make early inroads as they chase down victory and a maximum return of 20 points.

A return of nine points for a draw and a first-innings advantage seems the most likely at this stage, although Dockrell pin-pointed what the tactics will be when play resumes.

“On this track you need to get batsmen early on in their innings. Once they settle and get past 20, it’s difficult to get them out as you saw with our guys when they batted. The batsmen tend to be nervous at the start until they settle so you can get wickets in clusters as we did in that final session.

“The way the pitch has played and been prepared it's going to be hard to get a result, but we'll come out hard in the morning and do our utmost.”

Meanwhile, Cricket Ireland has confirmed that each of the three Interprovincial teams will award 16 contracts to players ahead of the resumption of the competition.

Cricket Ireland performance director Richard Holsdworth said: “The contracts don’t involve regular remuneration but players will get the same kind of support the senior men do with strength and conditioning, gym memberships, coaching support and support from a performance analyst. They will also receive match fees.”

Players will be able to move between the three teams, but the home union will have first call on a player.

(at Sharjah): Day 3 of 4 - Overnight: Ireland 589-7 dec (E Joyce 155, N O’Brien 126, G Wilson 84, W Porterfield 82, P Stirling 61; K Khan 2-48). UAE 56-1 (24 ovs). Fall of wickets: 1-126, 2-187, 3-368, 4-494, 5-519, 6-533, 7-589.
S Nialzi lbw b Murtagh16
A Ali c Murtagh b Dockrell95
K Khan lbw Johnston115
S Patil not out50
S Anwar lbw b Dockrell0
R Mustafa lbw b Mooney1
M Azam lbw b Mooney0
S Shah not out21
Extras (b2, lb2)4
Total (for 6 wkts, 120 ovs)302
Fall of wickets: 1-23, 2-210, 3-237, 4-237, 5-248, 6-248.
To bat: M Naveed, A Raza, F Ahmed.
Bowling: T Johnston 18-7-39-1; T Murtagh 18-9-28-1; G Dockrell 37-9-97-2; P Stirling 15-4-41-0; J Mooney 15-4-41-2; A White 8-1-25-0; K O’Brien 9-0-25-0.