Monday, November 29, 1999

Hopes springs as Aussies survive Ireland scare

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All-rounder James Hopes took career best figures of five wickets for 14 runs as Australia came through some nervy moments to beat Ireland by 39 runs in a one-day international here today.World champions Australia, in the first match of their British Isles tour, were held to 231 for nine in 50 overs at Clontarf.Opening batsman and wicketkeeper Tim Paine, only on tour after Brad Haddin was ruled out with an elbow injury, top scored with 81.Ireland openers William Porterfield and Paul Stirling then shared a stand of 80 in 11 overs to spark thoughts of a shock win.But Ireland's innings fell away with medium-pacer Hopes doing the bulk of the damage as the hosts were bowled out for 192 with eight overs to spare.Set 232 on a slow pitch, Ireland's first-wicket duo raced off at seven runs an over.When Ryan Harris, who had been hit for 16 in his first over, dismissed Stirling for a run-a-ball 36, Ireland had 80 on the board and were on course for a huge upset.However, the wickets of Porterfield, an English county professional with Gloucestershire, for 39, from 42 balls, and Gary Wilson of Surrey followed in successive overs.Instead of expressing the freedom the openers had shown, Ireland's middle order tried to consolidate and they lost their way.The turning point was the introduction into the attack by Australia captain Ricky Ponting of Hopes.Taking pace of the ball and bowling outswingers, Hopes appeared fortunate to get the wicket of Alex Cusack for 30, awarded a leg before decision when the ball seemed to be going over the top.But after that he was virtually unplayable and his five wickets helped reduce Ireland to 156 for nine.John Mooney, who top scored in the World Cup clash between the teams three years ago, hit five fours in his 38 but, trying to keep the strike, he was last man out in the 42nd over.Both Harris and off-spinner Nathan Hauritz finished with two for 40.Earlier, Paine's 122-ball innings was the backbone of Australia's total after Ponting won the toss.Paine was at the wicket for all but six overs of the innings as Australia failed to assert their superiority over the top-ranked Associate nation.Of the rest of the Aussie line-up, Ponting (33) and Cameron White (42) both got in but did not cash in on a good start and when White was out at the end of the 38th over, Australia were 152 for four.It was the perfect time for Michael Hussey to enter the fray but the Aussie 'finisher' managed only eight off 17 balls before he was caught off a skyer at mid-wicket, the first of three catches for Niall O'Brien off his brother Kevin's bowling.O'Brien finished with three for 43 from his 10 overs, Warwickshire's Boyd Rankin had two for 46 and both Cusack and off-spinner Stirling also took two wickets.In the end, the 79 runs Australia scored from their last 12 overs proved to be more than enough as they avoided an embarrassing loss ahead of the five-match one-day series with England, which starts at Hampshire's Rose Bowl ground on Tuesday.

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