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White hopes Ireland can sort out their T20 struggles

By Ian Callender

Not for the first time in the last couple of years, Ireland are in must-win territory to keep alive their hopes of progressing in a tournament.

Saturday's five-wicket defeat by Afghanistan in the Desert T20 means there can be no slip-ups in today's game against Namibia or tomorrow's against hosts UAE if they are to reach finals day on Friday and while even three years ago victory against these nations would have been a formality for Ireland, the pressure is now on a side which has lost their last seven T20s.

A familiar face has returned to the Ireland set-up this week with Andrew White, a veteran of 232 internationals - only Kevin O'Brien and William Porterfield have played more - in a new role as specialist coach, using his vast experience of playing in the UAE and preparing the players so they are ready to perform.

The Grosvenor High School teacher is also the latest to try and answer the question of just what has gone wrong for Ireland in the shortest format.

"We have won the Intercontinental Cup on several occasions and been the outstanding Associate Nation in the competition. To then become an outstanding team in T20 is difficult and we are asking players to average 40+ in first class cricket and then have a strike rate of 140 in T20," said White.

"Even in club and inter-provincial cricket it is arguably something that we do not see stand-out performances in. That said, the players in this squad have a very good understanding of what they have to do and hopefully over the week we will see some improvements.

"There has been a real effort to try and identify players who we feel can have an impact on T20 cricket and Jacob Mulder and Josh Little are exciting prospects not only in this format but potentially other formats."

Afghanistan made it two from two with a five-wicket win over UAE to confirm a top two place.

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