Sharif helps arrest Scots decline

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SCOTLAND’s cricketers were last night standing on the brink of a humiliating innings defeat in their Intercontinental Cup clash with Ireland after another inept batting display at Clontarf.

Facing a first-innings deficit of 212, the Scots slumped to 64-7 and looked as if they might struggle to take the match into its fourth day.

Their lowest-ever first-class total of 82 was also under threat until Majid Haq and Safyaan Sharif salvaged a little pride in the concluding overs.

The top order had been blitzed by a devastating new-ball burst from Max Sorensen, who claimed four cheap wickets. But Haq and Sharif delayed the Irish victory charge.

For the second time in the match Sharif made his highest first-class score, this time recording a maiden half-century, a landmark which was reached with a straight six off Andrew White. The pair had added 79 before the Scots suffered one last blow at the death, Sharif brilliantly caught by William Porterfield off John Anderson.

His departure means Scotland’s last two wickets must somehow scrape 68 runs just to make their rivals bat again.

Earlier the Scottish bowlers, while picking up regular wickets, were unable to prevent their rivals building a substantial lead.

Paul Stirling and Anderson had already taken the Irish tally beyond Scotland’s before the former, on 65, hooked an Ali Evans delivery to Moneeb Iqbal in the deep.

Anderson also went on to complete a composed half-century, his 56 coming from 112 deliveries.

The introduction of Iqbal brought Anderson’s downfall, an outside edge falling for Preston Mommsen at slip, and the leg-spinner went on to match Haq’s haul of four wickets.

Any hopes of a Scottish fightback were extinguished when Kevin O’Brien laid into the bowling in the pre-lunch period, the 2011 World Cup hero hoisting two big sixes out of the ground on his way to a punishing 45.

Scotland were all out for 138 in their first innings.