Ireland power to top of the table
Reigning champions Ireland have opened up a 14-point gap at the top of the Intercontinental Cup table after defeating Namibia by an innings and 107 runs in the second round clash, which concluded in Windhoek on Tuesday.
In a largely one-sided encounter, a 326-run second-wicket stand between left-handers Ed Joyce (205) and skipper William Porterfield (186) proved to be the difference as it helped Ireland declare its first innings for 570 for six while replying to Namibia’s 251. Trailing by 319 runs, Namibia fell to defeat with more than two sessions remaining after being bowled out for 212 in its second innings.
Speaking after the match, a delighted Joyce said: “We couldn’t have started the tournament any better with two innings victories against two good sides. The bowlers deserve a huge amount of credit for taking 20 wickets on what was a very flat surface and our aim was to bat once, which we also achieved.
“All in all, it was a thoroughly professional performance and we move on to our next challenge against PNG with a lot of confidence.”
A disappointed Namibia captain Stephen Baard reflected: “It was a disappointing result for us because we are a much better team than the result would show. In saying that, Ireland played well and outplayed us in every department.
“They are a quality outfit and we had to be at our best throughout the four days to give ourselves a chance. Unfortunately, it was not the case. So it’s time to regroup and come back stronger for the next fixture.”
Paying tribute to his side and the experienced Joyce on a fine performance, Porterfield said: “It was great to come here and get the 20 points we desired.
“For the bowlers to go out there and take 20 wickets on a very good pitch and to win the game with over two sessions to spare was a great effort. Also a special mention to Ed Joyce on scoring his second double hundred in as many matches in the competition to set up the win.”
Namibia had won the toss and opted to bat with its skipper Stephan Baard starting brightly before he was trapped LBW to Tim Murtagh (two for 44) for 21. The departure of Xander Pitchers (31) to Kevin O’Brien (one for 21) had the hosts on the ropes, before Jean-Pierre Kotze steadied the ship with an impressive 78 from 152 balls. The 21-year-old left-hander struck 11 boundaries in total, while a late flourish by tail-ender Christopher Coombe (35), who shared in a 49-run partnership with Bernard Scholtz (16 not out) as Namibia scored 251.
Apart from Murtagh, George Dockrell took two for 50), John Mooney picked up two for 55 and Craig Young snapped up two for 63), while Stirling (one for 13) also produced a disciplined spell where no runs were conceded from his first seven overs.
After the early loss of opener Stirling (15) in reply, Joyce joined Porterfield at the crease and helped Ireland pass Namibia’s total and build a sizable lead. By the time Joyce departed, with his fluent knock coming off just 201 balls, he had registered his second successive double-century in the Intercontinental Cup, having previously scored 231 against UAE in Malahide in round one. There were also useful quick-fire contributions from Mooney (53 not out off 60 balls) and Kevin O’Brien (45 not out off 55 balls) to help Ireland build a lead of 319.
In the second innings, the African side was on the back-foot from the off and Murtagh ripped through the top order to restrict the hosts to 12 for four, with the Middlesex seamer finishing with four for 18 that gave him match figures of six for 62. He was well supported by Dockrell (three for 55) and Stirling (two for 27).
For Namibia, Kotze was the top scorer with 48, while JJ Smit (45), Zane Green (35), Sarel Burger (34) and Gerrie Snyman (31) were the other main run-getters.
This outcome has strengthened Ireland’s ambitions of winning the Intercontinental Cup and qualify for the Test Challenge, which will be played against the 10th-ranked Test side on a home and away basis in 2018. If the Intercontinental Cup winner wins the Test Challenge, then it will secure Test status until the next Test Challenge, which will take place in 2022.