Australia A Overcome Spirited Irish Challenge
Australia A overcame a spirited and resilient Ireland side as well as the rain to record a comfortable 93-run victory on the final day of their first-class match in Belfast, making it two from two on their tour of the British Isles.
Nathan Lyon, who is currently the only spinner in Australia's 16-man Ashes squad, took three wickets during an impressive spell to seal victory after the start of play was delayed due to a wet outfield at Stormont.
Stuart Poynter's maiden first-class fifty gave the hosts a sliver of hope as they chased down the required target of 301 to win but in the end, Australia’s potent bowling attack proved too much for an Irish side shorn of the majority of their county players.
Heavy overnight rain meant there was no play possible in the morning session and when the players finally took to the field after lunch, the hosts resumed on 51 for three before James Shannon and Andrew White battled bravely to survive the early onslaught provided by seamers James Pattinson and Peter Siddle.
However, it was the introduction of Lyon which proved to be the turning point as White (23) was caught superbly at short leg by yesterday's centurion Nic Maddinson.
The departure of White sparked a flurry of wickets as Shannon (35) fell in nearly identical fashion to the off-spinner before Moises Henriques removed John Mooney (0) and Kevin O'Brien (10) in quick succession.
After a brief stoppage in play due to a light rain shower, 22-year-old Poynter played with great maturity on his way to 63 and found a willing partner in his former Ireland Under-19 World Cup colleague Stuart Thompson.
The pair shared an eighth-wicket stand of 70 in 17 overs before Thompson became Lyon's third victim, trapped lbw for 23.
Trent Johnston (5) became Fawad Ahmed's first wicket for Australia, and Ireland's spirited fight ended when Peter Siddle picked up the wicket his display of fast-bowling deserved as he found the outside edge of Poynter's bat.
Australia A conclude their tour with a three-day game against Gloucestershire at Bristol later this week and captain Brad Haddin was particulary pleased at the nature of his side’s victory in Belfast.
"We’re very pleased at how the game went as we wanted to be playing on the last day under pressure and I think it was beneficial for both teams," he said.
"All three results were possible and we had to bowl well to defend that total. But the most pleasing thing was that we were playing for a result and that’s the only way to improve as cricketers in the longer format," the wicket-keeper explained.
Lyon and Henriques may have picked up the wickets on the final day but Haddin was quick to praise his new-ball bowlers who got vital overs under their belt ahead of a busy summer.
"I thought Peter Siddle was top class today, he got into some really good Test match groove and all the guys bowled in partnerships when we needed them to and the spinners got the workout they needed as well.
“It’s a big summer ahead but we have one game left and we’ll be focused on winning that one. I’ve been really impressed at the work rate over the past four weeks and it’s certainly been a highlight the way the guys have just got better and better as the tour has progressed," Haddin concluded.
© Cricket World 2013