Anderson and O'Brien keep Ireland in the game
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
Three wickets in the last hour hauled Ireland back into their game against the South Africa A side in Coleraine but with two days remaining the tourists are still firmly in the driving seat.
A classy bowling display saw Kevin O’Brien’s side dismissed inside two sessions for 180 and the Proteas, including three players with Test experience, had reduced the deficit by 101 for the loss of four wickets at the close of day two, the first having been washed out.
The forecast was for heavy rain this afternoon but National Coach Phil Simmons is desperate to get in as much play as possible to see how the younger, inexperienced members of this side cope against quality opposition.
John Anderson, the Merrion captain in only his second game, passed his test with flying colours, last man out after facing 167 balls. All 68 of his runs actually came from 130 balls because he was scoreless for the first 37, a tremendous effort of discipline and patience, waiting for the bad ball which never came. Indeed opening bowler Rory Kleinveldt did not concede a single run off the bat in his first seven overs.
But Anderson finally got off the mark with a boundary in the 12th over, and he would follow it with nine more, many edged through or wide of the slips but he deserved all the luck going for his dedication. Last night he also took his first wicket.
Anderson's only serious support at the crease came from O’Brien who continued from where he left off in the inter-provincial on Sunday – when he scored 99 – with 58 off 73 balls, also including 10 boundaries and the only six of the day.
The rest were dismissed early by Kleinveldt and Wayne Parnell, who followed up his seven wicket-haul at Oak Hill last week with five more, Alex Cusack, Gary Wilson and Andrew White all out for ducks from a aggregate of nine balls. James Shannon’s run of five consecutive 50s was also ended by off spinner Simon Harmer.
Stuart Thompson, 21 today, again bowled tidily, this time without success while Max Sorensen found himself on a hat-trick after the South Africans sent in a nightwatchman. He was denied by a glorious cover drive from the regular No 5, Farhaan Behardien, which only underlined the size of the task still ahead for Ireland, made more difficult by two dropped catches off his own bowling by Albert van der Merwe. The lucky batsman, Stiaan van Zyl, is still there to resume this morning.