Even a suspected broken toe for captain Andrew Balbirnie was overshadowed by another horrible T20 performance by Ireland as UAE completed a deserved series win with a seven wickets victory at the ICC Academy in Dubai yesterday.

It looks like Thursday’s win for Ireland in the first of the three-match series can be put down to rustiness by their hosts, who were playing their first T20 international for eight months. They have proved the far superior side in the next two games and for Ireland, now just seven days out from their first game in the T20 World Cup, that is a huge worry.

Even respectable displays in their official, uncapped, warm-up games against Papua New Guinea tomorrow and Bangladesh on Thursday, will offer little hope with the Netherlands – who have won seven of the last nine T20s between the teams – Sri Lanka, whom Ireland have never beaten and Namibia waiting when the tournament starts.

It is difficult to see what Ireland can do to turn around their fortunes. When Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien give Ireland a good start, it is usually the platform for a winning total. But after putting on 85 for the first wicket yesterday, in 11.2 overs, Ireland scored only 49 from the remaining 8.4 overs.

After 11.2 overs of the reply, UAE were 87 for two but it took them only another 30 balls to win the game, and it only took them that long because Waseem Muhammad was turning down singles to keep the strike to ensure he reached his century.
The opener still took only 60 balls to reach the landmark, hitting 13 fours and, fittingly, finished the match two balls later with his fourth six.

Ireland's innings, in total, had six fours and two sixes, both hit by Kevin O’Brien who top scored with 54.
Ireland can only hope that Curtis Campher’s bowling, the big hope for Ireland after his impressive T20 debut last week, was a one-off (39 conceded in his 2.1 overs) and Gareth Delany, on his return from an nine-month lay-off, can improve on his 29 runs in the series from 42 balls with only two boundaries.

As for Balbirnie, who had reached double figures in a T20 game for the first time in four matches, when he had to be helped off in the final over, after off spinner Rohan Mustafa hit him flush on the foot, his prospects of taking part in the World Cup were last night uncertain.He went to hospital for an x-ray to the damage on, specifically, his third, fourth and fifth toes on his left foot and management were awaiting the radiologist's report to rule out a fracture.

Meanwhile, Namibia, the lowest ranked team in Ireland’s World Cup group, followed up a five wickets victory over Scotland on Saturday with a 14 runs success against PNG. Ireland can’t rely on a victory against the Africans either.


Ireland Women go into today’s final one-day international against Zimbabwe with a 2-1 lead in the series after their eight wickets win on Saturday.
Gaby Lewis (96 not out) and Leah Paul (63) put on 145 for the first wicket – Ireland’s second highest in an ODI - and Waringstown’s Cara Murray is the leading wicket taker in the series with seven, after taking two more as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 178.