Scotland v Ireland, ICC Intercontinental Cup, Aberdeen, 2nd day August 18, 2009

Sheikh and West set up tight contest

Cricinfo staff

Ireland 202 and 102 for 3 (Porterfield 52*, O'Brien 5*) lead Scotland 208 (Sheikh 100*, West 7-88) by 96 runs

A tight contest is developing at Aberdeen after Scotland secured first-innings points courtesy of an unbeaten century from Qasim Sheikh, who contributed almost half of the home side's total, while Regan West took a career-best 7 for 88. Scotland earned a narrow six-run lead and by the close Ireland were 102 for 3 having once again been troubled by the offspin of Majid Haq.

Spin is having a key influence on this game as West chipped away at the visitors and the slow bowlers shared nine wickets in the innings. West broke an important partnership between Sheikh and Ryan Watson (29) which had added 75 for the third wicket to put Scotland in control. The game changed when Watson was beaten by a quicker ball and West began working through the innings.

Neil McCallan carelessly lofted to mid-off and Richie Berrington was also bowled to leave Scotland 170 for 5. Kyle McCallan also chipped in as Scotland slumped to 199 for 9 when Gordon Goudie was caught at silly point and putting the lead points at risk.

However, No. 11 Ally Evans managed to stay with Sheikh to push Scotland ahead. Sheikh then reached a superb hundred as he pulled West for four then picked up a single behind point.

Ireland were soon back in the lead as William Porterfield and Jeremy Bray made a positive start, but Haq gave Scotland some important late impetus. He had Bray caught at second slip and bowled Paul Stirling with a beauty that took off stump. Andre Botha then gave his wicket away with a wild mow at Watson and suddenly Ireland were shaking.

Porterfield, though, held firm until the end and passed his half century with Kevin O'Brien for company. Both have crucial roles to play in building a lead because it won't be easy chasing in the fourth innings with the pitch offering plenty of help for the spinners.