Papua New Guinea opening batsman hit 151 off 144 balls

The Irish cricketers achieved another morale boosting victory today at Harare Sports Club, ahead of what will be the biggest and toughest game for them in Group A of the 2018 ICC World Cup qualifiers.

While the meeting with the West Indies this Saturday is by far the biggest challenge for Graham Ford's men in this campaign, today's opponents Papua New Guinea are no mugs and that was demonstrated by the fact that Ireland were pushed close, needing 8 runs off the final 12 balls, before sealing the second group win by 4 wickets.

Irish skipper William Porterfield won the toss and opted to put the opposition in to bat while there was an extra spinner in the Irish team with the 24-year old spinner Andy McBrine replacing Barry McCarthy from the team that defeated the Netherlands on Sunday.

The Pacific islanders had previous, taking an Irish scalp in a T20 series back in 2016, and they were given every hope when opener Tony Ura helped his side overcome a bad start with a national record breaking innings of 151 off 144 balls. That helped set a target of 236.

Ed Joyce would go on to pass 2,500 career runs in ODIs during his innings with 53 off 69 balls (4 x fours) while Porterfield led by example with an excellent 111 which saw him pass 3,500 ODI career runs.

Ireland were on 212 after Porterfield went leaving his side needing 24 runs to win from the last 40 balls.

The loss of Kevin O’Brien for 12 six balls later gave Irish supporters a but of a scare but Ireland's experience in the big games was on display as Gary Wilson (12 runs from 15 balls; 1 x four) and George Dockrell (8 runs from 17 balls; 1 x four) steered the Ireland side home. Wilson struck a boundary from the first ball of the last over to bring welcome relief to teammates and fans alike.

Ireland's match against the Windies is being screened live on Sky Sports Mix this Saturday from 7:25am.