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Balbirnie misses fielding after injury scare

By Ian Callender

Ireland man of the match Andrew Balbirnie ended up in hospital yesterday with suspected concussion following his innings of 68 as Ireland romped to an opening day win over Netherlands at the Old Hararians Sports Club in Harare.

Balbirnie was on 20 when he was too early on an attempted pull shot off Ryan ten Doeschate and although he was able to carry on without treatment, he realised not everything was right shortly after his dismissal.

"After I'd come off and had a break I started to feel dizzy, with some blurred vision. I did a concussion test at the ground but the doctor wanted me to go to hospital for a scan. That came up clear and it's gradually got better through the day but I spoke to the skipper and it was agreed it was best if I didn't field."

Reflecting on his own innings, he admitted it got off to a slow start and it was the arrival of Niall O'Brien, at 121-3 in the 30th over that changed the momentum.

"I was a bit stop-start at the beginning of my innings but Niall came in and took the pressure off me and allowed me to play some aggressive shots (his last 50 came off 40 balls)," added the Dubliner.

"I always enjoy batting with Niall, he keeps a level head and it's great to see him in form at the start of the tournament because you need your big players to perform.

"We knew they had two or three big players in the top six and managed to get them early. Kevin (O'Brien) bowled well in the middle of the innings, straight and that back of a length you need on these type of pitches

"We've been working hard on our fielding in the last few weeks and with Kevin's direct hit and Barry McCarthy's superb diving catch, to put a performance like that in the first game is a great start."

A stunned Dutch captain Peter Borren didn't know where that performance came from.

"We shouldn't be losing by nearly 100 runs against any team in this competition," he insisted. "Today was not a reflection of how good we are as a team."

Elsewhere, in the opening round of fixtures, Scotland stunned Afghanistan with a seven wicket win by chasing down 256 for the loss of just three wickets, with 16 balls to spare. Callum MacLeod scored 157 not out, while Rashid Khan's the world's No 1 ODI bowler had figures of 9-0-68-1.

In the other match in Ireland's group yesterday, their next opponents, Papua New Guinea, were bowled out for 113 by UAE as they chased a rain-adjusted target of 170 in 28 overs, while host Zimbabwe piled up 380 for six in their 50 overs and victory by 116 runs against Nepal.

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