Proteas too strong for Ireland

Despite a much-improved performance with the ball, an under-strength Ireland were again simply outclassed by their opposition, suffering their second defeat inside two day to South Africa. On another gloomy, rainy day in Stormont at the Civil Service Cricket Club, South Africa compiled 173-4 in their allotted 31 overs after a delayed start, which was to prove too much for a brittle Irish batting lineup who were dismissed for 131 in reply.

Put in by Trent Johnston in testing conditions when play eventually commenced at 4:00 pm, South Africa rightly chose to take the attack to the inexperienced Irish bowlers. AB de Villiers, opening with Morne van Wyk in the absence of Graeme Smith, began with a clutch of boundaries off a firmly planted front-foot, until a mistimed loft over cover brought his downfall for 40 from 35-balls. Van Wyk, who had played his only other ODI against England in the final of the NatWest Series almost four years ago, cut attractively en route to a maiden fifty.

However, the innings stagnated after de Villiers’ departure, with van Wyk struggling to take the initiative and stand-in captain Jacques Kallis playing in his typical accumulative style. Ireland maintained their lines much better than they had to Ganguly and Gambhir on Saturday, yet South Africa were in part guilty for their less than impressive total. Van Wyk’s dismissal, for an 84-ball 52, was followed by the losses of Kallis, 46 from 61, and Herschelle Gibbs for just two – all to the nonchalant medium-pace of debutant Alex Cusack, it was left to Justin Kemp to produce a cameo of 18 not out to round off the innings.

At 45 without loss at the end of nine overs and both openers settled, Ireland must have fancied their chances; nine balls, two runs and three wickets later, the game was sealed in South Africa’s favour. Dale Steyn’s pace proved too much for Kenneth Carroll and Thinus Fourie, before Vernon Philander, a seamer from the Western Cape with batting pretensions, celebrated his 22nd birthday and one-day debut with the key wickets of William Porterfield and Niall O’Brien as Ireland appeared to be caving in.

Despite Cusack completing a successful debut with an unbeaten 36, Thandi Tshabalala, another debutant, and Jean-Paul Duminy took a wicket apiece with their offbreaks, while Philander returned to clean up the tail and finish with figures of 5.5-1-16-4. South Africa eventually ran out winners by 42 runs, with Cusack deservedly collecting the match award. For South Africa, the real test now awaits: their bilateral series with India begins on Tueday with the first of three ODIs.

South Africa 173-4 (31 overs)
Morne van Wyk 52, AB de Villiers 40, Jacques Kallis 46
Alex Cusack 3-15

Ireland 131 all out (30.1 overs)
Alex Cusack 36*
Vernon Philander 4-12, Dale Steyn 2-30

South Africa won by 42 runs
Man of the Match: Alex Cusack

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