Scots struggle at Stormont

Scotland’s batsmen were forced to dig deep on the opening day of their Intercontinental Cup clash with Ireland at Stormont.

Scotland’s batsmen were forced to dig deep on the opening day of their Intercontinental Cup clash with Ireland at Stormont.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, the Scots faced the joint menace of an accurate Irish attack and a worn pitch.

The visitors’ run-rate was rarely up to the two-an-over mark and by the close they had crawled to just 183 for seven from 101 overs.

However, stand-in coach Pete Steindl believes his side are in with a chance of claiming the bonus points which go with a first innings lead.

He said: “The guys really dug in today and we can’t be too disappointed with the outcome.

“We want to push on and see if we can get up to 250 in the morning and then put their batsmen under pressure.

“Ireland bowled well and got their reward and we want to do even better with the ball. I don’t think the pitch is going to get any easier.”

It quickly became clear that runs would be at a premium as the new-look opening pairing of Steve Knox and Neil MacRae toiled from the start.

MacRae was first to go during a spell of nine consecutive maidens which saw Scotland pegged-back to 21 for one from 21 overs.

Even the arrival of Ryan Watson did little to increase the rate with the skipper unable to repeat his century heroics of last week’s win over Holland.

Instead, as frustration mounted, he attempted to pull a short delivery from Irish counterpart Trent Johnston and succeeded only in top-edging the ball to fine leg.

Scotland suffered an even bigger blow when former Yorkshire and England all-rounder Gavin Hamilton was the victim of a debatable lbw verdict.

Hamilton, making his first start since the World Cup, looked in the mood as he stroked three boundaries on his way to 16.

But, despite appearing to get an inside edge, he was judged lbw to give Kevin O’Brien a second wicket.

Knox’s long vigil of 108 balls for just 17 came to an end one run later before a spirited stand between Neil McCallum and debutant Richie Berrington raised hopes of a recovery.

Greenock youngster Berrington even hoisted one big six over square leg off Dave Langford-Smith as he and McCallum posted 50 for the fifth wicket.

However, both men fell to leg-spinner Greg Thompson as Ireland reclaimed control.

Berrington, having made an accomplished 18, nicked a delivery to the wicketkeeper while McCallum hit five boundaries in his 36 before being bowled.

Craig Wright matched McCallum’s effort but he became Johnston’s third victim shortly before the close.

The Irish captained sent down twenty-one tidy overs in claiming three wickets for 27 runs.

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