IRELAND remain in the ascendancy after the second day of their ICC InterContinental Cup clash with Papua New Guinea in Townsville.

However their quest for a third successive win in the competition met a stumbling block in the form of Asad Vala who scored his second first class century in only his third match.

The stylish left-hander was still there unbeaten at the close of play - scoring 104 out of his sides 166 for 7. He's faced 205 balls to date in his one-man resistance show - striking seven boundaries.

He and Jack Vare (22) shared the only partnership of note - 55 for the 6th wicket, after PNG had been reduced to 94 for 5.

Tim Murtagh (3-30) was the most successful of the Irish attack, with Bready pacemen past and present - Boyd Rankin (2-16) and Craig Young (2-36) the other wicket takers.

Rankin in particular proved hard to score from - his six overs coming at an economy rate of just 1.00 on another attritional day for the batsmen.

Earlier in the day Ireland, resuming on 232 for 5, lost Kevin O'Brien (19) early. Despite a seventh wicket stand of 41 between George Dockrell (24) and Andy McBrine (23), they lost four wickets for just nine runs to finish on a disappointing 289 all out.

Norman Vanua proved the destroyer-in-chief for the Pacific Islanders, claiming 5 for 59.

With a new ball due in four overs Ireland will be confident of obtaining six points for the first innings lead, but if they are to win the game, they will be keen to take the remaining three wickets as quickly as possible in the morning.

Although spinners George Dockrell and Andy McBrine went wicketless today, Ireland will be hopeful both will play a key role on the final two days of what has been a tense affair to date.


Day 2 of 4

IRELAND 289 all out (104.4 overs, N O'Brien 63, G Wilson 48, P Stirling 42, E Joyce 35, G Dockrell 24, A McBrine 23, N Vanua 5-59)

PAPUA NEW GUINEA 166/7 (76 overs, A Vala 104*, J Vare 22, T Murtagh 3-30, B Rankin 2-16, C Young 2-36)