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 matches.

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 contribution on Saturday when Ireland limped to 112-8 but yesterday the bowlers could not defend 170 with their hosts winning by two wickets with two balls to spare.

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 T20 internationals 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 with Stirling in the most radical change to the batting line-up but after scoring one from eight balls in the four wickets defeat on Saturday yesterday he scored 22 from 14 balls but then went for one big shot too many.

He was still second top scorer behind Stirling, who hit nine fours and three sixes in his 48-ball innnings, although Harry Tector, Simi Singh, Shane Getkate, in his first senior match, and George Dockrell all reached double figures at better than a run a ball.

The bowling in the closing overs, however remains Ireland’s biggest problem. When the Omanis lost their seventh wicket they still needed 37 from 21 balls but they took 12 off the 18th over bowled by Getkate, 13 off Chase and with the help of two wides from O’Brien, the remaining 10 runs, sealed with a six, proved a formailty as Sandeep Goud finished 55 not out, having hit seven fours and two sixes