Intercontinental Cup: Andrew Balbirnie hits maiden century as Ireland dominate
|Intercontinental Cup, Malahide (day one of four):|
|Ireland 292-2 (96 overs): Balbirnie 130*, Porterfield 60, Anderson 57*, Joyce 43|
|Scorecard (external site)|
Andrew Balbirnie's maiden first-class hundred put Ireland in a commanding position at the end of the first day of their Intercontinental Cup game against the Netherlands at Malahide.
The 26-year-old was unbeaten on 130 by the close of play as Ireland took advantage of an under-strength Dutch attack to rack up a score of 292-2.
Captain William Porterfield contributed 60 with John Anderson 57 not out.
The match is Ireland's first since being granted Test status in June.
Their confirmation as full members of the ICC came soon after they were last in action in a tri-series with New Zealand and Bangladesh in May, since when coach John Bracewell has also announced that he is stepping down at the end of the campaign.
Ireland are four-times winners of the Intercontinental Cup but are second favourites behind the Afghans for this year's edition following their innings defeat to their new Test match rivals in India in June.
Irish openers Ed Joyce and Porterfield negotiated a tough opening hour and Joyce went on to record six fours in an entertaining 43, before pulling Peter Borren to square leg.
The pair had added 71, and in a tense period before lunch, Porterfield and Balbirnie battened down the hatches ensuring no further losses.
The visitors stuck to their task well but Porterfield emerged post-lunch in a positive frame of mind, as he reached a deserved half-century - eventually making 60 from 149 balls, including 10 fours and a six.
It came as a surprise when he edged Shane Snater low to Logan van Beek at slip.
He and Balbirnie had added 67, but with the ball 50 overs old, the stage was set for the Irish to up the tempo in the late afternoon and evening session.
Balbirnie and Anderson took full advantage, pulling and driving impeccably as the Dutch attack tired as the day went on.
The pair added an unbroken 150 in exactly 46 overs, with Balbirnie finishing on 130 not out from 238 balls (16 fours, one six), and the ever-consistent Anderson undefeated on 57 from 125 balls.