Canada v Ireland, Intercontinental Cup final, Leicester, 1st day May 22, 2007

Ireland outclass lowly Canada

Ireland 250 for 3 (Bray 146, Porterfield 54) lead Canada 92 (Johnston 4-12,) by 158 runs

Jeremy Bray acknowledges the applause on reaching his hundred © Martin Williamson
Ireland have the Intercontinental Cup final all but won after a dominant first-day performance with both bat and ball that left Canada down and virtually out. In the morning session Ireland's bowlers ripped the Canadians to shreds, and then Jeremy Bray cut loose with the bat, his brutal 146 underlining the gulf between the sides.

Canada's poor preparation for the match - not entirely of their own doing - was starkly evident almost from the first ball. Trent Johnston rightly chose to field first to make the most of any lingering moisture, and the move paid off as a succession of batsmen failed to cope with good seam bowling, their technical deficiencies at the crease which most proved to be their undoing.

Failing to move their feet to the prodigious swing from Johnston and Dave Langford-Smith, Canada's top three were each trapped lbw, with Jon Davison departing in the first over. That set the tone, and the writing was on the wall once Ashish Bagai shouldered arms to one that cut back in and in so doing lost his off bail.

The middle order was no match for Ireland's change bowlers either, with Thinus Fourie - replacing Boyd Rankin for this match - being rewarded for accuracy with 3 for 31 and Kevin O'Brien 2 for 4. Ireland were slick in the field as well, as exemplified by William Porterfield's excellent low catch at point off a fierce cut from Qaiser Ali.

Canada were 75 for 9 at lunch and the innings only lasted a few minutes into the afternoon. It was not hard to see why the Canadian board and selectors had stayed at home while the Irish were out in force.

Thinus Fourie celebrates bowling Ashif Mulla © Martin Williamson
The only hope Canada had was quick wickets, and lots of them. But Bray and Porterfield saw the shine off the new ball and then began to open up. If Canada had watched any of Bray's innings during the World Cup, they had not learned anything, and they repeatedly gave him the width to unleash his trademark savage cuts and drives. By tea he had made 71 out of 97 for 0.

Briefly after the break, Canada looked interested, but then Bray really opened up and it was like watching a sports car race away from traffic lights as Ireland disappeared out of sight. Two rasping straight drives and a slash through the covers brought Bray his hundred off 112 balls - 82 had come in boundaries - and Porterfield, until then content to let his partner dominate, also began to find the gaps to reach his own fifty off a more sedate 120 balls.

Bagai chopped and changed his bowlers without success, and Bray grew increasingly carefree. He brought up the 200 with a deft leg glance but the next ball he played a tired slash and was caught at slip. Two balls later, Porterfield followed with the thinnest of edges to the keeper.

Peter Gillespie followed Porterfield back to the pavilion shortly before the close, trapped in front by Samad, but it was no more than a consolation. Canada's dreadful day was summed up three overs from the close when a wild throw - in a hopeless attempt of a run-out - sped through for four overthrows.

Ireland's batting is their real strength and they will press on tomorrow with 500 and a declaration around tea in mind. Canada will need to persevere and take heart from the last session today, but the reality is they are up against a much better side, and one that is professional in everything but name.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo