Stirling and Balbirnie bag half-centuries as Ireland see off Hong Kong

Ireland get off to winning start in T20 World Cup qualifier in Abu Dhabi

Ireland’s Mark Adair bowling during the T20 World Cup qualifier against Hong Kong at the Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: ICC

Ireland’s Mark Adair bowling during the T20 World Cup qualifier against Hong Kong at the Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: ICC

 

Half-centuries from Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie got Ireland off to a winning start at the T20 World Cup Qualifier in Abu Dhabi as they proved too strong for a Hong Kong side coached by former Ireland skipper Trent Johnston.

Set a target of 154 on a boiling hot day at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Ireland got off to the worst possible start hen the in-form Kevin O’Brien was run out without facing a ball.

Stirling, who recently committed himself to Ireland by ending his career with Middlesex, attacked from the off, hitting the first ball of the reply for six.

Stirling and Balbirnie went on to add 86 runs in 10 overs to take the game away from Hong Kong before Stirling departed for 62 from just 36 balls, hitting wight fours and two sixes.

It would be the last wicket Ireland lost as Balbirnie and YMCA teenager Harry Tector got Ireland home with 16 balls to spare to secure an eight-wicket victory.

Balbirnie finished unbeaten on 70 off 53 balls, with eight fours included, while Tector hit two fours in his 21 not out.

Earlier, Kinchit Shah starred with the bat for Hong Kong, making 79 off 54 balls, with Ireland’s bowlers helping restrict their opponents late in the innings.

Despite the comfortable nature of the win, Ireland skipper Gary Wilson admitted his side were not in top gear.

“I don’t think we played our best cricket, to be honest,” said Wilson. “The pitch played a lot slower than we had hoped. We had to go to our cutters early, which we found to be effective. We’ve learned a lot, and we still have three more games to play in this stadium, so it’s great to win a game when we feel we haven’t played our best.”

Wilson also praised his senior top-order batsmen for getting the side home without too much fuss.

“A clinical chase from the boys, I thought Paul [Stirling] was excellent, and Andrew [Balbirnie] has been doing that for us for the last number of years. He’s probably not your belligerent T20 batter you’re used to seeing around the world, but his strike rate is right up there just from playing good cricket shots.”

Boyd Rankin finished his four-over spell without a wicket, but Wilson was quick to point out the veteran’s contribution after he went for just 18 runs.

“Boyd was outstanding, I think that should be the prototype bowling we’ll aim for,” said Wilson. “We spoke halfway through the innings that we were too full with the ball, but if you look at Boydy with the way his lengths were, I don’t think he went for a boundary in his four overs, and that should be the prototype for the lengths of our balls going forward.”

Ireland are in action again on Saturday when they take on hosts United Arab Emirates at the same venue, a game Wilson is not looking beyond.

“We look to our next game against the UAE, if we play our best cricket then we’ll be okay. If we aren’t at our best, then these other teams are good enough to beat us. It’s a case of a thinking a game at a time, if you look too far ahead in these tournaments you can come unstuck.”

SCORES
Hong Kong 153-5
(20 ovs) K Shah 79; M Adair 2-22), Ireland 155-2 (17.2 ovs) (A Balbirnie 70no, P Stirling 62, J Tector 21no). Ireland won by 8 wkts.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.