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Ireland are left to sweat over Rankin's fitness


By Ian Callender

Boyd Rankin remains a doubt for Ireland's first one-day international against Afghanistan in Greater Noida tomorrow (4am GMT) with a back complaint.

The bowler was rested for the two ODIs against UAE at the start of the month but was then pulled out of the Twenty20 series against the Afghans.

Rankin is one of four players due to come into the squad for the five ODIs, along with Tim Murtagh, Ed Joyce and Niall O'Brien, a significant rise in quality on the 14 selected for the T20s which Ireland lost 3-0.

With or without Rankin, they should make a difference, as Gary Wilson - Ireland's leading run scorer in the shortest format this year - agrees.

"It will be nice to play with a full-strength side. Yes, it is different conditions, but we are confident we can get runs," said Wilson, who will revert to a specialist batsman for the rest of the tour with the wicket-keeping gloves returning to O'Brien.

Wilson also said he is excited to see how Jacob Mulder, the 21-year-old CIYMS leg spinner, fares on the bigger stage.

Afghanistan drew the five-match ODI series in Belfast last year 2-2 (one game was abandoned) but Rankin, O'Brien, Andrew Balbirnie and Stuart Thompson all missed out. The next 10 days will determine if they make the difference.

Ireland squad: W Porterfield, A Balbirnie, G Dockrell, E Joyce, J Mulder, T Murtagh, A McBrine, B McCarthy, K O'Brien, N O'Brien, B Rankin, P Stirling, S Thompson, G Wilson, C Young.

Belfast Telegraph

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