Ireland eye Oman revenge in T20 World Cup mission
Unless Ireland defeat Oman in their third Group B game at the T20 World Cup qualifying tournament today (11.10BST), they will almost certainly have to go through the play-off route next week to reach the finals in Australia.
The Omanis made it two wins out of two yesterday, with a seven wickets victory over Hong Kong to put them in pole position to claim the top spot in Group B, following Ireland's loss to hosts UAE on Saturday. Only the two group winners can book their passage this week and if Ireland lose today they will be relying on freak results to usurp Oman who have won their last eight T20 internationals, including a 43 runs success over Gary Wilson's side earlier this month.
The Ireland captain, however, insists they learned a lot from that setback in Oman and the squad is ready to claim revenge.
"It is a good Oman side but we have done our homework on them and hopefully we come back strong," said Wilson.
"I would liken them a little to Afghanistan. They have good spin options, two left armers, plus a right arm pace and left arm pace so they have good variation in their attack. But we did learn a lot about them."
Despite a horrible collapse against UAE, which saw Ireland lose their last six wickets for five runs in nine balls, to be bowled out for 125, the bowling continues to be the main worry.
Boyd Rankin and Mark Adair are carrying the attack and the Ireland slow bowlers were shown up by their UAE counterparts and with today's game being played on the adjacent Oval ground, rather than the much larger stadium, George Dockrell could make way for Stuart Thompson, who lost his place to Shane Getkate on Saturday.
The batting continues to be dominated by Paul Stirling who scored his third consecutive 50 against UAE and having last week secured a contract with the Delhi Bulls at the T10 League, back here in Abu Dhabi next month, last night was expected to be drafted for The Hundred, the new English franchise competition which starts next year.
Saturday's summary: Ireland 125 (20 overs, P Stirling 72; R Mustafa 4-18) UAE 129-5 (17 overs, R Mustafa 39). UAE won by 5 wickets.