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Stirling effort fails to bring end to Ireland's troubles

 

By Ian Callender

A new year but a familiar story for Ireland in Twenty20 cricket. Yes, it was the first couple of games after more than five months off but against the weakest opposition they will face all year, Ireland have lost both.

The batting improved from the opening game against the Oman Development XI - but that was mainly because Paul Stirling's 78 was 70 more than his knock on Saturday when Ireland limped to 112-8, but yesterday the bowlers could not defend 170, the hosts winning by two wickets with two balls in hand.

Next up is the Oman senior team - who beat Ireland the last time the teams met at the 2016 World Twenty20 - in the first game of the quadrangular series with games against Scotland and Netherlands to follow before the squad head to India and three more T20Is against Afghanistan.

In T20 World Cup qualifying year, Ireland will need to find a way to win in the shortest format or they are not even certain of making the top six who qualify for the finals in Australia next year, once a formality for Ireland teams, who qualified for five successive World T20s.

Kevin O'Brien has been promoted to open the batting but after scoring one from eight balls in the four wickets defeat on Saturday he scored 22 from 14 balls but then went for one big shot too many.

He was still second top scorer, although Harry Tector, Simi Singh, Shane Getkate, in his first senior match, and George Dockrell all made double figures at better than a run a ball.

The bowling in the closing overs remains Ireland's weakness. When the Omanis lost their seventh wicket they still needed 37 from 21 balls but took 12 off the 18th over bowled by Getkate, then 13 off Chase and with the help of two wides from O'Brien, the remaining 10 runs, sealed with a six, were a formality.

Yesterday's scores: Ireland 170-6 (P Stirling 78, K O'Brien 22) Oman Development XI 171-8 (S Goud 55 not out; S Getkate 2-30, P Chase 2-33, K O'Brien 2-33). Oman Development XI won by 2 wickets.

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