Ireland ride on Stirling show to survive Babar and Hong Kong in South Africa

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    Stirling smashes one during his knock of 156 against Hong Kong in Pretoria - Image by Cricket Ireland // www.cricketireland.ie

    Two innings in South Africa and both resulting in knocks of 150+. Paul Stirling has warmed up nicely for Ireland for the upcoming ICC World Cup Qualifiers. Hong Kong were at the receiving end this time around as Stirling blasted 156 in only 126 deliveries to set up the innings nicely for Ireland.

    Century partnerships with Andy Balbirnie (37) and Ed Joyce (58 n.o) took Ireland to 284/3 in the 45th over before their innings was interrupted by rain and they didn’t manage to put in the final five overs.

    Hong Kong were set a target of 175 in 20 overs when play finally resumed after a lengthy shower break. And it set-up the match nicely as Babar Hayat let loose on the Irish bowlers, smashing them all around the park as he scored a whirlwind 60 runs from only 33 deliveries. Waqas Barkat was the other batsmen to get amongst the runs as he contributed 30 runs to the total.

    The match went down the wire as Hong Kong needed 9 runs to win in the final over but Peter Chase bowled a perfect over to restrict them to 171 for the loss of 8 wickets, as they fell short agonisingly by only 3 runs. Stirling starred with the ball as well as he picked up 2/34 including the prized scalp of Babar.

    Barry McCarthy had a forgettable day as he leaked 46 runs in his four overs but managed to pick up 2 wickets. Peter Chase, Kevin O’Brien and Simi Singh picked up a wicket apiece as Ireland completed their pre-WCQ tour of South Africa with 3 wins and one match against Scotland getting washed out.

    Hong Kong still have a match remaining against Scotland before both teams also head to Zimbabwe for ICC World Cup Qualifiers. Netherlands, the fourth team hosted by Assupol Tuks Cricket during these pre-WCQ matches, also had a good work-out in the past couple of days with matches against Ireland, Scotland and Hong Kong.

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