Rain curtails Ireland-Australia
Belfast - Brett Lee struck twice in the first over before rain washed out Australia's one-day international against Ireland at Stormont on Saturday.
Ireland, put in by Australia captain Michael Clarke, had slumped to 36/3 in 10.4 overs when, in a match where the start was delayed by a wet outfield, a fresh downpour halted proceedings.
And conditions meant, despite several inspections, the match never resumed with play finally called off at 17:00 SA time as Australia were denied valuable time in the middle ahead of their five-match one-day series against England, starting at Lord's on Friday.
One man who proved he was ready for the main event was veteran fast bowler Lee. The 35-year-old took two wickets with the first three deliveries of the match and finished with figures of 2-10 from his three overs.
Pat Cummins, the 19-year-old protege, bowled the fastest ball of the day at a shade under 94mph.
But both he and Lee were consistently over 90mph on a pitch which played superbly despite almost 48 hours of non-stop rain in the build-up to the match.
Australia rotated their bowlers after Thursday's warm-up victory over Leicestershire, with Lee, Cummins and Ben Hilfenhaus replacing James Pattinson, Clint McKay and Mitchell Johnson.
Ireland gave a debut to Middlesex seamer Tim Murtagh, qualified for the country through his grandparents, although the rain in Belfast meant he'd still to take the field in international cricket.
Lee made an instant impression when the match got underway when, with the first ball of the contest, he bowled William Porterfield as the Ireland captain played round the delivery.
Lee's second ball rapped into the pads of Ed Joyce but umpire Mark Hawthorne's decision that it was sliding down the leg side was backed up by the television replays.
But there was no reprieve for the Sussex opener next ball, when Lee ripped one past his forward defensive stroke.
Watching the mayhem from the other end was Paul Stirling and he saw out the second over from Ben Hifenhaus, which also yielded the first run of the match, via a legside wide.
Niall O'Brien scored the first run off the bat before Stirling got into his stride, cutting Lee over the head of point to give the crowd of more than 5 000 something to cheer about.
It was the free-scoring Stirling who dominated the action, hitting three more boundaries in his innings of 24 from 27 balls before he was brilliantly caught, one-handed to his right, by Clarke at slip.
Two balls later the rain fell, and before the next over could be completed, it was heavy enough for the players to run off the field, never to return.
Australia continue their tour with a warm-up match against Essex on Tuesday, with England one-day captain Alastair Cook set to turn out for his county.
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