Fulton And McCullum Hold Off Irish Challenge

Peter Fulton scored 83 before a late run flurry helped New Zealand post 263 for eight against tournament debutants Ireland in the final World Cup Super Eights match at the Providence Stadium on Monday. Ireland, a team of mostly amateurs, reduced the Black Caps to 83 for three in the 17th over and then 118 for four as the New Zealanders struggled for long periods. Opener Fulton blunted the Irish with his sixth one-day fifty, before Brendon McCullum made 47 from 37 balls in the closing overs, putting on 71 with James Franklin, 34 not out from 22. New Zealand scored 59 from the last five overs. The Black Caps were seeking to cushion their passage through to the semi-finals while Ireland were striving to emulate the shock win by unfancied Bangladesh on Saturday over South Africa at the same ground. Captain Stephen Fleming was first to depart for 10, when he tried to punish fast bowler Boyd Rankin's erratic line and length but only managed an uppish square drive to William Porterfield at point. He was Rankin's ninth wicket of the event. The score was 59 when Hamish Marshall (16) charged medium-pace swing bowler Dave Langford-Smith and was brilliantly caught by Eoin Morgan running back at extra cover to take the ball over his head. BIZARRE DANCE Langford-Smith was able to repeat his bizarre dance move celebration when he had Scott Styris (10) caught behind six overs later for 10. Craig McMillan threatened the Irish briefly with an innings of 22 from 29 balls before he was caught at backward point off spinner Kyle McCallan. Fulton, known as 'Two-metre Peter', and Jacob Oram, an inch shorter at 6ft 5in (1.96 metres), represented what must be the tallest batting combination in international cricket as they consolidated the innings for the Kiwis with a stand of 54. Fulton's 110-ball innings was halted when he missed a sweep and was lbw to the impressive off-spinner McCallan, who finished with two for 35 from his 10 overs. An out-of-sorts Oram was well caught low by Morgan off spinner Andrew White for 20 without hitting a boundary. Daniel Vettori then made five before being caught behind off White and at that stage the Kiwis were 189-7 before Franklin and McCullum came to their rescue. © Reuters 2007