Cricket: Mushtaq leaves Ireland bamboozled

Henry Blofeld reports from Taunton
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On Thursday afternoon Mushtaq Ahmed stepped off the plane from Colombo where Pakistan had been playing Sri Lanka and, less than 24 hours later after one preliminary twirl of his arms, mesmerised Ireland with a magnificent display of leg breaks and googlies. In his first two overs he took three important wickets for 13 runs and finished with 7 for 24 in 9.2 overs.

His first was that of Hansie Cronje, the South African captain. Mushtaq's first ball went down the leg side for four wides; the second was a googly which hastened on to Cronje, who, on the back foot, was palpably leg-before.

In Mushtaq's second over, Justin Benson, Ireland's captain, scuttled across his stumps and tried to flick the ball to leg. It was another googly which hustled through everything and hit the middle and leg stumps. Two balls later Andy Dunlop was lured forward by a beautifully flighted leg- break which touched the outside edge of the bat and went gently to slip.

The Irish innings had been carried on nobly by Andrew Patterson, a 21- year-old of great promise. He played a series of superb drives through the offside and pulled Graham Rose for the only six of the day.

After Mushtaq had taken those three early wickets, Patterson reached his first 50 for Ireland when he pulled the leg-spinner through midwicket for four. But later in the over he drove Mushtaq gently to mid-off having faced 41 balls and hit nine fours and one six.

After Derek Heasley had been surprised by another googly, Greg Molins bowled round his legs and Paul McCrum had miscued to mid-on, it was all over.

When Somerset won the toss and batted it made it much less likely that Ireland would pull off another victory. They had been handicapped already when their opening bowler, Peter Gillespie, pulled a back muscle before the start. Decker Curry who made 75 against Middlesex on Monday had been left behind in Ireland to work at his abattoir.

Rose and Michael Burns gave Somerset a fine start putting on 87 for the first wicket in 13 overs also with some lovely driving. They were then out in successive overs and Mark Lathwell soon followed before some powerful left-handed strokeplay by Simon Ecclestone, who made 92 from 83 balls, ensured that Somerset did not lose their way. When Peter Bowler and Robert Turner cashed in at the end they were assured of an invincible score.

More reports, Scoreboard, page 29