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Balbirnie's 86 fires him into Cup reckoning

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New contender: Andrew Balbirnie staked claim for World Cup place

New contender: Andrew Balbirnie staked claim for World Cup place

New contender: Andrew Balbirnie staked claim for World Cup place

Andrew Balbirnie took a huge stride towards a place in the Ireland World Cup squad with a match-winning 86 as Ireland completed the Australia leg of their acclimatisation tour in Canberra.

But the Ireland XI's thrilling one-wicket win over the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Comets side was overshadowed by yet another injury.

Gary Wilson, playing only his second game since flying in from his captaincy commitments at Surrey, fell on his shoulder when attempting a catch on the boundary in the 48th over and immediately left the field.

Wilson, Ireland's first choice wicket-keeper, was in the outfield because Niall O'Brien was wearing the gloves in yesterday's game but the injury prevented Wilson from batting.

There was no comment on the extent of the injury from the Ireland management last night.

Balbirnie, who was not even named in the 12-man squad for the game, however, was the big beneficiary and, called in to replace Wilson at No 4, the Middlesex batsman took his chance in style. His 86 came off just 90 balls with nine fours as Ireland chased down a victory target of 306 with 10 balls to spare.

William Porterfield and Niall O'Brien put on 75 in 11 overs for the first wicket and then Balbirnie took centre stage. He was seventh out with 21 still wanted but although Alex Cusack and Andy McBrine followed, Graeme McCarter hit the winning runs.

The bowling attack, missing Craig Young and George Dockrell, who has signed a new one-year contract with Somerset, will be disappointed to concede 305 for nine but Cusack proved he was back to full fitness and bowled his full quota of 10 overs.

The squad fly to New Zealand tomorrow morning for four matches, in the space of eight days, starting next Thursday.

Scores: ACT Comets 305-9 (50 overs, M Condon 126, A Harriott 62, P Pisel 33, M Spaseski 30 not out) Ireland XI 306-9 (48.2 overs, A Balbirnie 86, J Mooney 46, W Porterfield 42, N O'Brien 36, K O'Brien 35, S Poynter 23 not out; S Devoy 4-57). Ireland XI won by one wicket.

Belfast Telegraph