Ireland make light of Stirling's absence by easily seeing off Scots
Ireland romped to an impressive four wickets victory over Scotland in their opening game in the T20 Tri-Series in Malahide - and they did it without Paul Stirling.
Their star batsman tweaked a calf muscle in training on Monday and, with so much cricket in the next six weeks, he was not risked - and is unlikely to be involved today when Ireland face the Netherlands in the fourth match of the series.
"If it was a qualifying tournament he would play, but with four games in Oman and two warm-up games before the T20 World Cup qualifiers next month, he will not play this week if there is any sort of pain. But it's certainly nothing serious," said skipper Gary Wilson
The big positive for Ireland was that there is a ready-made replacement for Stirling at the top of the order.
Gareth Delany, playing only his third international, hit a classy 52 from 28 balls, with eight fours and a six, as Ireland made light of chasing 194.
Indeed, they reached it with 14 balls to spare, and Mark Adair, who hit the winning boundary, faced only two balls, Shane Getkate, unbeaten at the other end, only three and Stuart Thompson wasn't even required. Delany was still upstaged by Andrew Balbirnie, who hit 64 at a strike rate of exactly 200, Ireland's regular No.3 again proving he can adapt to any format.
After Kevin O'Brien was caught at short fine leg for 17, Balbirnie hit his first ball from Ali Evans for four and his third for the first of three sixes. The biggest surprise of the day was when he gave a return catch to Richie Berrington immediately after hitting his 12th boundary.
Harry Tector who, along with David Delany, was given his Ireland debut, came in at No.4 and scored off all but one of his 15 deliveries - just what is required in T20s - and there was still time for Wilson to hit two trademark reverse sweeps as Ireland maintained the momentum.
The bowlers stuck to their task with Boyd Rankin the pick, deserving his three wickets, while Delany, who bowled his first over in the powerplay and conceded only three runs, justified his role as the front-line spinner.
SCORES: Scotland 193-7 (20 overs, C MacLeod 72, G Munsey 34, O Hairs 26, R Berrington 20; B Rankin 3-29, G Delany 2-31 D Delany 1-40, S Thompson 1-44, S Getkate 0-12 (1 over), M Adair 0-36 (3) Ireland 194-6 (20 overs, A Balbirnie 64, G Delany 52, H Tector 21, K O'Brien 17, G Wilson 13, L Tucker 7, M Adair 4 not out, S Getkate 2 not out; M Watt 3-38).
Ireland won by 4 wickets.