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A stroll for Irish as Porterfield's big calls pay off

By Ian Callender

A new opening batsman and a returning bowler were the key to Ireland's comfortable success in their opening World Twenty20 Qualifier against Namibia at Stormont.

For the first time since a warm-up game for the World T20 in Sri Lanka three years ago, Niall O'Brien opened the batting instead of skipper William Porterfield, and his 45 from 40 balls, including his 5,000th run for Ireland, was the launching pad for a solid batting response.

Porterfield, happy to drop to No 3, then finished the job with 56 not out as Ireland eased home by seven wickets with 16 balls to spare.

John Mooney missed the two defeats to Scotland but in his 50th T20 international proved the missing pace bowling link. After Tyrone Kane conceded 12 in the first over, Mooney took over, took a wicket with his third ball and two more in his next two overs to reduce Namibia to 45 for three.

"Two points was the order of the day and it was a very solid performance," said a delighted Porterfield. "We know what Namibia can do, this was the third successive qualifying tournament we have played them in the first match and they beat us three years ago, so they can be dangerous and we played very well to beat them.

"I said to Niall a few days ago that was the way I was thinking. We didn't get a chance to open with him in the warm-ups but he has done it before, so we'll see if that comes off in this competition.

"Stirlo (Paul Stirling) missed out but we know what he can do and Niall has the licence to play with freedom and if it comes off we are spoilt with options."

It was a confident start by the co-hosts, helped by Porterfield winning a 9.30am toss after overnight rain. Apart from a nervous Kane, Ireland were always in control.

Stirling, Ireland's most economical bowler in this format, started with a maiden and conceded just eight runs from his first 21 deliveries. He didn't deserve to be hit for two sixes at the end of his spell.

George Dockrell conceded a solitary boundary in his four overs and Cusack only two. But 125 was never a challenge for this batting line-up and it proved a stroll. They will be confident of the same here tomorrow against the USA.

Other scores: Group A: USA 121 (20 overs) Nepal 122-4 (19.2 overs, G Malla 52). Nepal won by 6 wickets. Group B: Canada 143-5 (R Gunasekera 51) Kenya 146-3 (I Karim 74 not out). Kenya won by 7 wickets. UAE 164-6 Afghanistan 168-2 (17.2 overs, Mohammad Shahzad 74). Afghanistan won by 8 wickets.

Group A fixtures - Today: Hong Kong v Jersey (Bready, 10am); Stormont: Nepal v USA (Stormont, 2.15pm)

Tomorrow: Ireland V USA (Stormont, 10am); PNG v Jersey (Bready, 10am).

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