Ireland v Scotland, Intercontinental Cup, Belfast, 4th day August 12, 2007

Botha and Cusack flay tired Scotland

Cricinfo staff at Stormont

Ireland 473 for 7 (Botha 186, Cusack 130, N O'Brien 83) drew with Scotland 314

Ireland's Andre Botha on his way to a career-best 186 © Rowland White
Career-best hundreds from Andre Botha and Alex Cusack ensured Ireland took the maximum bonus points available from their drawn Intercontinental Cup tie against Scotland at Stormont. With two of their three matches in the two-year competition blighted by rain, Scotland are already struggling, and this was a day where their weakened bowling attack was severely tested and found wanting.

The loss of the whole of yesterday to rain and a delayed start this morning because of a wet outfield meant that the six bonus points on offer for a first-innings lead were all that was at stake. Once Ireland had grabbed those midway through the afternoon, the game was only about personal records.

On the second day Niall O'Brien and Andre Botha rescued Ireland from an early wobble with a pugnacious fourth-wicket stand, but it only extended into the second over today as O'Brien skied an attempted hook and the ball went straight up into the off side.

At that point Scotland were back in the hunt for the points. Cusack survived a vociferous appeal for a catch behind before he had got off the mark, and then, crucially, Craig Wright put down a low, sharp slip catch off Botha. He had 71 at the time and made Wright and Scotland pay dearly.

Both batsmen continued to ride their luck. Cusack should have been run out when a mix-up left him stranded in the middle of the pitch but the throw not only missed the stumps but went through the fielder's leg for four overthrows. Botha, with men in the deep, took up the challenge to hook and top edged inches over their heads, and was then dropped off another miscue at fine leg.

By the time tea came, Ireland had overtaken Scotland's total, the afternoon session yielding 170 runs, and Botha in full flow with Cusack, whose confidence hid the fact that this was his first-class debut, providing excellent support.

Alex Cusack shapes to drive © Rowland White
With nothing at stake, other than to get the match finished so they could make their 8.10pm flight home. Scotland grew ragged and both men were dropped yet again. Botha's luck finally ran out when he was beaten in the flight by Ross Lyons and Simon Smith, after a fumble, completed the stumping. Botha's 186 contained 22 fours, a six, some luck but plenty of powerful strokeplay. The pair had added 234 for the fifth wicket at almost five an over.

Cusack feasted on the weary bowling, bringing up his hundred with a towering six over long-on, punching the air as if acknowledging the roar of a capacity crowd rather than the smattering of applause from the dozen or so who had turned out. He smashed an even bigger six soon after, lofting the ball straight and out of the ground before warily edging an attempted cut to Smith for 130.

By then, however, Scotland's minds were firmly on the departure boards at the George Best City Airport, and fittingly the rain, which had played such a part in spoiling the game, returned to end proceedings.

Team Mat Won Lost Tied Draw Aban Pts
Canada 2 1 1 0 0 0 26
Scotland 3 1 0 0 2 0 26
Netherlands 2 1 1 0 0 0 14
Ireland 1 0 0 0 1 0 9
U.A.E. 2 0 1 0 1 0 3