Porterfield century leads Ireland to victory over Papua New Guinea
March 6th 2018 | International
Record-breaking batting heroics by Papua New Guinean opener Tony Ura wasn’t enough to deny an Ireland victory, as the men in green defeated Papua New Guinea by 4 wickets - led from the front by Captain William Porterfield’s century, at Harare Sports Club today.
Porterfield called correctly at the toss and had no hesitation in putting the opposition in to bat. Ireland chose to include an extra spinner in the team today, with the 24-year old spinner Andy McBrine replacing Barry McCarthy from the team that defeated the Netherlands on Sunday.
Papua New Guinea got off to the worst of possible starts losing opener Vani Morea to a calamitous run out. Morea seemed to leisurely stroll forward out of his crease after he had missed a ball that struck him on the pads. The ball had rolled away to short square leg where George Dockrell sensed a chance and ran Morea out with a direct hit.
The decision to bring in McBrine (3-38; 10 overs) then looked inspired early on as the captain of the North West Warriors claimed three early wickets in a tight spell of off-spin bowling.
Further PNG wickets fell, with only one of the top seven batsmen getting to double figures. However that one batsman - Tony Ura – hit back, playing a remarkable innings that broke national records in an innings of 155 runs from 144 balls (10 x fours, 6 x sixes).
The 28-year old Ura, who did not feature in his side’s first game loss to the UAE on Sunday, played a one-man counter-punching innings, easily surpassing his previous ODI best score of 61. Playing in only his 15th ODI, Ura had registered just 36 runs in total across his last three innings, but today was his day as he first consolidated against, and then dominated the Ireland attack to eventually register his nation’s highest individual ODI innings, surpassing the 107 scored by Lega Siaka in 2014. Unfortunately for Ura he finally fell on the fourth last ball of the innings, being denied the opportunity to be the first Papua New Guinean to carry their bat throughout an ODI innings.
Image: Ed Joyce congratulates Tony Ura after he was dismissed for 151.
Despite stubborn tail-end resistance from Jack Vare (13 runs from 25 balls), Chad Soper (25 runs from 40 balls) and Norman Vanua (12 runs from 10 balls), the PNG innings came to a close with Kevin O’Brien (2-53; 7 overs) claiming the final wicket off the last ball.
For Ireland, McBrine was the stand out bowler, but was ably supported by Boyd Rankin (2-41; 10 overs), Kevin O’Brien, Paul Stirling (1-16; 3 overs) and an economical Tim Murtagh (0-32; 10 overs).
After a quick break between innings, the Ireland response was off to a brisk start, with Captain Porterfield and fellow-opener Stirling dispatching four boundaries in the first three overs. Stirling looked to be setting himself for one of his devastating innings, but swept a ball straight to the mid-wicket fieldsman and was out for 27 (21 balls; 4 x fours).
After losing previous match hero Andrew Balbirnie shortly after for seven runs, Ed Joyce joined Porterfield and the pair put on a steadying partnership of 108 runs in just under 22 overs, putting Ireland firmly in the drivers seat - seemingly cruising to victory.
Joyce, who passed 2,500 career runs in ODIs during his innings, was out shortly after bringing up his half-century for 53 off 69 balls (4 x fours).
Joyce’s dismissal was followed quickly by the wicket of Niall O’Brien for 1, but the loss of partners did not stop Porterfield who sublimely brought up his 11th ODI century with a boundary.
Porterfield, who passed 3,500 runs in his ODI career during his innings, was played chancelessly today, but eventually fell for 111 (133 balls; 12 x fours) with the score on 212 – leaving Ireland 24 runs to win from the last 40 balls.
The loss of Kevin O’Brien for 12 six balls later put a minor fright through fans following along intently, but experience in the big games came to the fore as Gary Wilson (12 runs from 15 balls; 1 x four) and George Dockrell (8 runs from 17 balls; 1 x four) steered the Ireland side home. Wilson struck a boundary from the first ball of the last over to bring welcome relief to teammates and fans alike.
For the PNG bowling side, a creditable performance pulled their side back into the match but fell just short. Assad Vala was the pick of the bowlers taking 2-39 from 10 overs.
Rob Cassell, Assistant Head Coach, said after the game:
“Winning form is good form and we started well with the ball. It was a fantastic knock from Ura, who made 150 for PNG. It was a bit of a lone hand, and gave us some things to work on with the ball - otherwise it was a good performance.”
“It was a little a bit closer than we expected, but there’s always that pressure on when playing against a lesser ranked side - there’s always pressure on to beat them comfortably. PNG have come a long way in the last 12 months, so we’re happy to get over the line.”
“West Indies are up next. Our boys are playing good cricket at the moment and confidence is high, so we’re looking at taking the Windies head on.”
Image: William Porterfield acknowledges teammates and the crowd after bringing up his 11th ODI century.
Elsewhere today in Group A (Ireland’s Group), the West Indies had a strong win over the UAE with star batsman Chris Gayle in ominous form hitting 123 off 91 balls. Ireland will face the West Indies on Saturday with both sides undefeated. The match will be broadcast on Sky Sports Mix, starting at 7.30am (Irish time).
IRELAND v PAPUA NEW GUINEA, 50-over match, Harare Sports Club, Harare
• Papua New Guinea 239 all out (50 overs; T Ura 151, C Soper 25; A McBrine 3-38, B Rankin 2-14, K O’Brien 2-53)
• Ireland 237-6 (49.1 overs; W Porterfield 111, E Joyce 53; A Vala 2-39)
Ireland won by 4 wickets.