Ireland strolled to victory by an innings and 115 runs against Canada to retain the Intercontinental Cup within two days of the scheduled four-day final at Grace Road today.
A day which started promisingly for the North Americans with Umar Bhatti picking up four lbw decisions in five balls – including only the second hat-trick in the competition’s history – soon went downhill when they began their second innings.
Andy Pick’s side managed just 145 to add to their first-innings effort of 92, seeing them fall well short of Ireland’s 352 all out.
Vice-captain Kyle McCallan and skipper Trent Johnston did the damage for the Irish with eight wickets between them as the defending champions won at a canter.
Dave Langford-Smith made the early breakthrough when he had Geoff Barnett caught by wicketkeeper Gary Wilson for just one.
Abdool Samad was trapped lbw playing right across the line by Johnston for seven.
Johnston then picked up the two vital wickets of John Davison and Ashish Bagai, the former bowled for 28 and the latter caught at third slip by Kevin O’Brien after making 13, to leave Canada 58 for four.
Qaiser Ali made it five down for the Canadians with the last ball before tea, getting his pads in the way of a straight ball from McCallan.
The departure – caught and bowled by McCallan – of Ashif Mulla soon after tea left Ireland needing just four wickets and still with 30 overs due to be bowled. Mulla’s score of 48 was by far Canada’s highest of the match.
Nobody else threatened to offer any resistance.
Sandeep Jyoti was caught at third slip by White off O’Brien for two, Trevin Bastiampillai and Austin Codrington were bowled by McCallan for 20 and four respectively, and McCallan finished matters by having Henry Osinde brilliantly caught by Andrew White at long-on.
Earlier, Bhatti’s five wickets for 85 had looked to have put Canada back in the match, the left-armer’s sensational spell brightening up what had until then been an uninspired morning’s play.
Bhatti first got rid of O’Brien, and then dismissed White, Wilson and Thinus Fourie as Ireland stumbled from 297 for three to 303 for seven.
The defending champions started the day’s play in steady if unspectacular style, with the first hour’s play yielding only 30 runs as Eoin Morgan and O’Brien were content to hang around and look to carry out the Irish gameplan of batting Canada out of the match.
O’Brien survived a decent early shout for caught behind off Bhatti, and went on to make 35 including a couple of flashing drives through the covers.
The Canadians took the new ball after the drinks interval and then it was not long before Bhatti stole the limelight by ripping apart the Irish middle-order.
Middlesex batsman Morgan looked on at the other end as his partners came and went in quick succession, before going on to complete his 50.
Osinde then knocked out Johnston’s off-stump with a superb last ball before lunch, with the skipper having made nine.
McCallan lasted less than 10 minutes after lunch before edging an Osinde delivery to Samad at fourth slip for two.
Morgan moved onto 84 with a magnificent six over deep mid-wicket but then became Bhatti’s fifth victim after clipping to Bagai at cover to leave Ireland 352 all out with a lead of 260.