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O'Brien ready for semi-final comeback

By Ian Callender

Niall O'Brien is the surprise name in the Ireland squad for today's second semi-final of the World Twenty20 Qualifiers against the Netherlands in Malahide (2.15pm) and seems set to return to the starting line-up.

O'Brien twisted his knee in the warm-up before the game against Papua New Guinea 10 days ago and a scan two days later revealed he could be out for up to another 10 days, but hard work has got him back in the frame quicker than expected.

"I'm feeling good, it's been a bit of a slow burner but the last couple of days it's got better, quicker than the first three or four days, and I've put my name in the hat for selection," he said.

"I was back in the nets yesterday and had a good bat and a good field today and got through all the fitness tests. The physio and captain are happy so we'll see if I make the final 11."

If O'Brien returns it will be back down the order as, in his absence, William Porterfield was back in his usual opener's spot, alongside Paul Stirling, for the win against Jersey and they duly compiled Ireland's highest first wicket stand of the tournament, and it will be the same again this afternoon.

The last time Ireland clashed with the Dutch was at the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh 16 months ago when the Netherlands chased an incredible 193 inside 14 overs to knock Ireland out of. But one player who is confident there will be no repeat is wicket-keeper Gary Wilson.

"That was the first time I had ever lost to the Netherlands in 10 years, 14 matches, and while the Dutch will be backing themselves off the back of that, if we play our best game we will come out on top," said the Surrey pro.

"We haven't played our best cricket in this tournament but we have a history of peaking at the right time, no team will want to play against us, no matter what they say."

The first semi-final is between Scotland and Hong Kong (10am) and all four teams will be back in action at Malahide tomorrow, the losers in the 3rd place play-off at 10am with the final scheduled for 2.15pm.

Belfast Telegraph


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