Ireland will hope that Paul Stirling is the man in form when they begin their preparations for the T20 World Cup qualifying tournament next week.
Following the cancellation of Ireland’s T20 international against West Indies last month, Stirling is the only member of the 14-man squad who will have played any cricket in the shortest format this year before they face UAE in the first of three warm-up games in Oman ahead of the qualifying event.
Stirling hit four boundaries in a quick-fire 19 yesterday as Islamabad United lost their second match at the Pakistan Super League. The Ireland vice-captain faced only 10 balls before holing out to deep mid-wicket.
But he has already made his mark, hitting the third fastest 50 in the history of the PSL in United’s opening game on Sunday, off only 18 balls, in an opening stand of 112 from just 9.4 overs with England exile Alex Hales.
Stirling was dismissed for 57 but his fast start, in United’s nine-wicket victory, still earned him the Player of the Match cheque worth the equivalent of around £2,000.
The tournament continues until February 27 but Stirling is available for only two more games before he joins up with the Ireland squad on Saturday.