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Ireland set to stage climax of the first ever Euro T20

Ireland's Andrew Balbirnie
Ireland's Andrew Balbirnie

By Ian Callender

The first edition of the European Twenty20 League will start in the Netherlands on Friday, August 30 with finals day in Ireland on Sunday, September 22.

After 18 months of preparatory work, agreement has been reached between the boards of Ireland, Scotland and the Dutch for the League which will feature six franchise teams - two from each country - with a minimum of nine domestic players and a maximum of seven from overseas in the 16-man squads.

Six of the domestic players must be in each starting XI.

The teams - yet to be named, but the Irish ones will be based in Belfast and Dublin - will play each other twice, the first 10 games in the Netherlands and the second 10 in Scotland before the sides head to Ireland for the last 10 group games, semi-finals and final.

Fixtures and venues will be confirmed at the competition's launch, which is due next month, and there will be an auction for the overseas stars, with the teams hoping to fend off competition from the Caribbean Premier League which is taking place at the same time.

One player certain to be involved in the Dublin franchise is Andrew Balbirnie after he smashed eight sixes and eight fours in a memorable 145 not out as Ireland squared the one-day international series against Afghanistan on Tuesday.

It was his third ODI century, by 40 runs his highest and unquestionably his best and, having posted his highest T20 score of 83 against Netherlands in Oman two weeks ago, the 28-year-old is in the form of his life.

"I wanted to be more positive this time (in the first match he was out for two having faced 20 balls - on Tuesday he hit his first six off his 18th ball) because the wins we've had against them were when we have played a positive brand of cricket and not let them bowl at us," said Balbirnie.

"It's obvious who the threats are, but Paul Stirling played Mujeeb well for the first 10 overs and if Rashid doesn't take wickets early he tries different things, bowls different lengths and you can score boundaries off him. Now we need to put in a repeat performance on Friday and take the lead in the series."

It was a rest day for the Ireland squad in Dehradun yesterday but they will have a full practice session this afternoon, with the only selection decision ahead of the penultimate ODI whether to bring in an extra batsman.

Belfast Telegraph


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