Ireland suffered a 23-run defeat to world champions Australia in a rain-affected one-day international at Belfast.
John Bracewell’s side were well in the game chasing a revised target of 181 from 24 overs following a third break for rain, as Ed Joyce (44 from 33 balls) and Niall O’Brien (45 from 53) put on 86 for the second wicket.
All-rounder Stuart Thompson shone with a16-ball 24 that included two down-the-ground sixes off Glenn Maxwell, but the Ireland lower order struggled to keep up with the run rate as wickets kept falling, and were eventually dismissed for 157 from 23.4 overs.
World Cup-winners Mitchell Starc, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins each took two wickets, while Nathan Coulter-Nile finished with 3-13 from 4.4 overs.
Ireland captain William Porterfield felt his side were well in the game with the experienced Joyce and O’Brien at the wicket, but the repeated interruptions stemmed the flow of his side’s run chase.
“We came back from losing two wickets in the first three overs, as Ed Joyce and Niall put on a bit of partnership,” he said.
“They set it up and we had a real go at it, and we had a couple of cameos, but we just came up short.”
Steven Smith, in his first match as Australia’s permanent captain following the retirement of Michael Clarke last week, was impressed by the performance of the Irish as they attempted to chase down the target.
“Ireland have players who can hurt you, and Ed Joyce and Niall O’Brien are good players,” he said.
“I am sure if Ireland continue to play [matches against top-class opposition] they will continue to improve.”
The groundsman Philip McCormick, who stayed up all night to protect his pitch from heavy overnight rain, produced a true wicket that gave the batsmen value for their shots.
It persuaded Smith to choose to bat after winning the toss, following a delayed start for rain that reduced the match to 47 overs a side.
Grey skies and a threat of swing from the Ireland bowlers meant a tough baptism for Joe Burns, making his ODI debut, but the Queensland and Middlesex batsman came out swinging to plunder 69 from 70 balls, including 17 from one Craig Young over during an opening partnership with David Warner of 139 from 21.5 overs.
Warner, who was happy to play a supporting role while Burns blazed away at the other end, was next man out for 84 from 80 deliveries after mistiming a pull off Tim Murtagh.
Warner’s dismissal prompted a mini-collapse, with Middlesex seamer Murtagh bowling George Bailey and off-spinner Andrew McBrine accounting for Maxwell as Australia lost three wickets for five runs in 16 deliveries.
Thompson then took the prize scalp of Smith to reduce the World Cup winners to a total of 190-5 in the 36th over.
Australia finished on 222-6 from 40.2 overs when the rains came again to halt play.
That left Ireland with a revised target off 195 from 27 overs, which was later revised to 181 from 144 deliveries following a third rain delay.
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