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Balbirnie is back but may lose his No.3 spot: Wilson

 

Big hit: Gareth Delany is in good form for Ireland
Big hit: Gareth Delany is in good form for Ireland

By Ian Callender

Andrew Balbirnie is available to resume his place in the Ireland team for today's game against Canada at the T20 World Cup qualifiers in Abu Dhabi.

Balbirnie, who missed the Oman match on Monday with a stomach bug, trained yesterday with the other three members of the squad not involved in the 35-run victory, but Ireland captain Gary Wilson admitted that he may lose his regular place at No.3 in the batting order.

Gareth Delany's man-of-the match performance against Oman forced Wilson to admit there were four players who want to bat in the top three, and although Delany has been the one to lose out when Paul Stirling, Kevin O'Brien and Balbirnie are in the team, the new kid is battering down the door.

"It gives us food for thought because we have seen how slow the pitches are out here, so we may need to cash in on the powerplay (the first six overs), and he might go up to the top of the order or even No.3," admitted Wilson yesterday.

"It's a big shout because Balbo has done so well. So, we have a few questions to answer, but they are great questions."

Delany has already played 12 times since his debut in July and his 10 innings have been in five different positions - eight, two, four, seven and three.

The 22-year-old Dubliner proved he could slot in as opener with 50 from 25 balls against Scotland in the Tri-Series in Malahide, and on Monday his 89 not out, at No.3, came off 49 balls. Delany faced only five balls with the field restrictions but hit the last two to the boundary.

Asked where he preferred batting, his answer was diplomatic.

"Anyone in T20 wants to bat in the powerplay to get as much time as you can, but there are three excellent batters ahead of me so not much I can do. It's great we have Balbo to come back in, so it can only get better with him in the side," he said.

As Ireland have proved in recent matches, if two of their top four come off then they win. Against Oman it was Delany and O'Brien, against Hong Kong it was Stirling and Balbirnie, and because Stirling had no support against UAE, they lost.

It seems a simple formula, but the squad knows it's a winning one, and the winning of the group remains in Ireland's hands. UAE's surprise defeat to Jersey yesterday left five teams on four points, Canada having played a game fewer, underlining the significance of today.

Wilson added: "We haven't played them in a long time (September 2011), but there will be footage for us to study.

"But our backs were against the wall yesterday and we came out with an outstanding performance, and if we come out like that again, I'm very confident."

The game is live on Sky Sports Cricket from 11am.

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