UAE v Ireland, ICC Intercontinental Cup, Abu Dhabi, 2nd day March 7, 2008

Niall O'Brien hundred gives Ireland the lead

Cricinfo staff

Ireland 366 for 7 (Niall O'Brien 137*, Johnston 69) lead UAE 228 by 138 runs

Niall O'Brien ground his way to an unbeaten 137 © Emirates

Wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien's unbeaten 137, aided by captain Trent Johnston's 69, furthered Ireland's advantage on the second day after their bowlers had dismissed United Arab Emirates for 228. Ireland, resuming on 46 for 1, finished on 366 for 7, a lead of 138.

William Porterfield and Eoin Morgan made 25 and 47, before a 64-run stand between the O'Brien brothers - Niall and Kevin. Left-arm spinner Ahmed Raza bagged his second wicket for the match by dismissing Kevin for 33, but Niall O'Brien, who had made a nervous start, held fort against the UAE bowlers.

The hosts must have a sensed the possibility of a fightback when Andre Botha and Alex Cusack departed in quick succession; Ireland were 203 for 6, still needing 25 to more to match UAE's first-innings score.

However, Johnston joined hands with Niall O'Brien, and the two not only put Ireland in the green, but seized the momentum with a record seventh-wicket stand of 163. Johnston needed only 95 balls for his 69, which included ten boundaries. O' Brien's 137 contained 20 fours, and his presence at the crease on the third morning will give Ireland the chance to further their lead before aiming to bowl out UAE for the second time in the match.

The umpires signalled the close at the fall of Johnston's wicket - stumped by Amjad Ali off Saqib Ali. For UAE, Zahid Shah, Saqib and Raza took two wickets apiece; Raza was the best of the lot: his 2 for 47 coming off 24 economical overs.

"I've been a bit ill over the past day, but I've been on tablets and special drinks and I've managed to get through it to the end," a delighted Niall O'Brien admitted. "I missed out on the game here last year when all the records were broken, so it's great to score a hundred today."