Paine anchors Australia against Ireland

Dublin: Tim Paine`s defiant 81 was the backbone of Australia`s modest 231 for nine in the one day international against Ireland at Clontarf here today.

Paine faced 122 balls, with two sixes and five fours, and was at the wicket for all but the final six overs of the innings as Australia, who won the toss, failed to assert their superiority over the top-ranked Associate nation.

Of the rest of the Aussie line-up, captain Ricky Ponting (33) and Cameron White (42) both got in but did not cash in on a good start and when White was out at the end of the 38th over, Australia were 152 for four.

It was the perfect time for Michael Hussey to enter the fray but the Aussie `finisher` managed only eight off 17 balls before he was caught off a skyer at mid-wicket, the first of three catches for Niall O`Brien off his brother Kevin`s bowling.

Niall O`Brien decided not to risk his broken finger by keeping wicket in the match, surrendering the gloves to Surrey`s Gary Wilson who had mixed fortunes in the field.

The high was a superb stumping, standing up to Australia-born medium pacer Alex Cusack to dismiss Michael Clarke for a fifth ball duck but the low was when he needlessly threw the ball back at bowler Trent Johnston.

It was thrown with such pace that Ireland`s captain at the 2007 World Cup had to not only leave the field but visit the local hospital with a suspected broken thumb.

Fortunately for Ireland an X-ray revealed merely bruising but Johnston, also born in Australia, is likely to bat only if required.

Without him, the rest of the bowling stood up well to the task with only Peter Connell, in three spells, proving expensive, his five overs going for 37 runs.

Kevin O`Brien finished with three for 43 from his 10 overs, Warwickshire`s Boyd Rankin had two for 45 and both Cusack and off-spinner Paul Stirling also took two wickets.

Bureau Report