Smith lifts Australians after top-order trouble
Australia A 248 for 6 (Smith 104*, Sorsenen 4-44) v Ireland
Australia A's top order again needed bailing out, this time by a century from Steve Smith, after Ireland had put them in difficultly on the opening day in Belfast.
Although the Australians secured an overwhelming victory in Scotland last week the frontline batsmen did not enjoy huge success, with the majority of runs coming from Brad Haddin and Peter Siddle.
This time they slipped to 65 for 4 during the morning session and were later 139 for 6 when Max Sorensen claimed his fourth by removing Siddle for duck, before Smith and James Pattinson added an unbroken 109 until rain forced an early close. Smith's hundred came off 164 balls.
"It's nice to get a few," he said. "The wicket played a little better probably the last 30-odd overs, it was nipping around early and was quite hard work but I got through that and it got a bit easier. The new ball did a fair bit and it was quite a tough period."
It was Sorensen who made the early inroads after Ireland, missing some of their county-based players, had won the toss. He bowled both Nic Maddinson and Usman Khawaja during his first four overs to leave the Australians 22 for 2. Trent Johnston, the senior statesman of the Ireland team, followed those breakthroughs by removing Alex Doolan for a lively 40 and claimed the key scalp of Haddin.
The first period of recovery came between Smith and Moises Henriques as the pair added 74 for the fifth wicket, keeping their concentration during breaks for showers. Sorensen's return lifted Ireland, though, when he claimed Henriques and had Siddle caught in the gully four balls later. It was an impressive display from Ireland, following on from their two extremely close-fought ODIs against Pakistan last month.
The Australians countered as their lower order, not for the first time, suggested more solidity than what was above them. Smith resisted against some accurate seam bowling in helpful conditions, and later took advantage of Ireland's back-up bowling, while Pattinson showed some of the batting prowess he has produced in Test cricket.
Fawad Ahmed, the legspinner, was included in an Australian side for the first time after being drafted into the squad following the news that his citizenship would soon go through and enable him to be eligible for the national team. Weather permitting, he will add much intrigue to second day.
"He's bowling really well in the nets," Smith said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him in the game. He's obviously a very skilful legspinner."