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Cusack's injury mars Ireland's Emirates victory

By Ian Callender

Alex Cusack is a doubt for today's second World Cricket League clash against the UAE in Sharjah after injuring a finger in Ireland's five wickets victory yesterday.

Cusack damaged it when he failed to hold on to a return catch in his third over from Swapnil Patil, and he hurt it again 16 overs later when he dropped the same player at thirdman.

He went to hospital immediately after the match – in which he would have batted only in an emergency – but the scan, encouragingly, revealed only bad bruising.

Cusack was able to battle through the pain and bowl another five overs after his second missed catch and finish with day's best figures of three for 21, with Patil, finally for 65, among his victims.

Paul Stirling also took three wickets including the last in the 47th over to dismiss UAE for 165, a total which Ireland would have bitten your hand off at the start of this World Cup qualifier, after William Porterfield won the toss.

But 11 overs into the Ireland reply, the WCL leaders found themselves 51 for four, with the captain, himself, Ed Joyce and Niall O'Brien all holding their hands up for their own wickets and Stirling was already back in the pavilion, just as culpable, after facing only 11 balls.

The cool head and Ireland's saviour was Gary Wilson. The Surrey professional and Methody old boy – whose day was complete when his alma mater won the Schools Cup at Ravenhill – hit an undefeated 72 to see Ireland home with a comfortable eight overs in hand.

He received good support from Kevin O'Brien in a fifth wicket stand of 56 and then John Mooney stayed with him to keep the team on course for Australia 2015 without further alarms.

"It was comfortable enough in the end but we certainly made it harder for ourselves than it should have been.

"Batting might be tricker again on Wednesday, although par would still be 220-230 maybe.

"It's still a quick-scoring ground and the extra man inside the ring (under the new one-day regulations) could push that par score up, but it certainly isn't the same batting track as it was in the four-dayer last week."

Of the six bowlers used – Kevin O'Brien wasn't – the only weak link was Max Sorensen and he will be under pressure to keep his place for tomorrow with Middlesex's Tim Murtagh desperate to make up for his only previous appearance in the competition, when he had figures of 0-39 against the Afghans at Clontarf last July.

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