Intercontinental Cup: Ireland hope to win to move to top of table

Ireland captain William Porterfield
Ireland captain William Porterfield sat out the four-day game against Zimbabwe A

Ireland begin the second match of their Intercontinental Cup campaign against Namibia in Windhoek on Saturday in the knowledge that a win for either side would see them move top of the table.

The Netherlands currently lead Namibia and Ireland by six points.

Batsmen William Porterfield and Ed Joyce return after being rested for the four-day tour game against Zimbabwe A.

Paul Stirling is also expected to take his place in the team after recovering from tightness in his quad.

Stirling did not bat in the final innings of Ireland's draw with Zimbabwe A as a precautionary measure.

Porterfield and Joyce instead spent time batting in the nets and both are expected to play, as is bowler Tim Murtagh, who was also rested.

In the potential scenario of the side winning the match after conceding a first innings lead, the Dutch will drop to third as in this situation the side that wins the match will collect 13 points while the side that claims the first innings lead will get seven points.

Paul Stirling did not bat in Ireland's final innings against Zimbabwe A as a precautionary measure
Paul Stirling did not bat in Ireland's final innings against Zimbabwe A as a precautionary measure

Namibia have been preparing for the game by playing in South African domestic cricket, while Ireland arrived in Windhoek directly from Harare, where they have spent the last three weeks playing three one-day internationals and a four-day match with Zimbabwe A.

In the first round of fixtures, reigning champions Ireland defeated the United Arab Emirates by an innings and 26 runs in Malahide in June, while Namibia recorded a 114-run victory over Hong Kong in May and will be aiming to make home advantage count against Porterfield's experienced side.

There has been one change to the original 14-man squad named by Ireland, with Max Sorensen returning home from Zimbabwe with a back injury, the impressive Stuart Poynter comes into the squad in his place.

Poynter goes into the match on the back of scoring his maiden first-class century in the final tour match in Harare, while Stirling, Gary Wilson, Kevin O'Brien, John Mooney and Niall O'Brien all made half-centuries in Zimbabwe.

With conditions at the Wanderers Club very similar to those in Zimbabwe, Ireland are well acclimatised and required the minimal recovery time after their travel day to Windhoek.

The side completing a full training session the day after arriving, with another session on Friday ahead of the match helping the side get used to a new outfield and ground.

"We made a great start to the Intercontinental Cup campaign in Dublin earlier this year and we have all been building up to this game, targeting it from a long way out," said Murtagh.

"The games in Zimbabwe have been fantastic for us as usually before an I Cup game we would arrive a couple of days before and have to adapt to conditions really quickly. It has been great to spend time playing and training in the same conditions before we got here."

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