THE day after being given a lifeline in the World Twenty20 should have seen an upbeat Ireland squad at their final training session ahead of this afternoon's decisive group game against West Indies (3pm BST). The reality was that a third of the players were too ill to attend.

A virus swept through the squad yesterday with Paul Stirling, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin and Alex Cusack all confined to bed, Gary Wilson was suffering from flu symptoms which also prevented him taking any part in practice and Stuart Thompson joined the sick list after only five minutes of the curtailed session.

National coach Phil Simmons and physio Kieran O'Reilly were also absent leaving captain William Porterfield to face the media and play down concerns ahead of the game which will decide if Ireland progress to the Super Eight for the second time in three World T20s.

"A few of the lads have gone done with upset stomachs but hopefully it's just a 24-hour bug and it will pass over," said Porterfield. "We've done all the preparation we can do and it's just a matter of brushing up on the day of the game. As long as everyone wakes up well in the morning, hopefully we will have a full squad to choose from."

On Saturday night, after Australia maintained their 100 per cent record with a Duckworth/Lewis adjusted victory over West Indies, the Ireland players had got their wish tomorrow's game would be a straight knock-out against the calypso kings for second place in Group B. The winners head to Pallekelle for games against England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand; the losers go home.
Porterfield, despite the illness in the camp, was determined to stay positive.

"This is the position we want to be in, and we have to turn up tomorrow night and do our job, which we are more than capable of doing. We are confident of beating any side on our day and all the lads are confident we can come back," said the skipper. "We scored 90 off the last 12 overs against Australia so there is that positive."

West Indies scored 103 off the last 12 on Saturday night after Chris Gayle had reached 50 in 26 balls and he, obviously, is the big danger to Ireland tonight. But, while Gayle's whirlwind innings continued his remarkable start to World Twenty20 tournaments he has scored 284 in his four opening appearances, hitting 22 sixes his record in second games is positively dire, just 27 runs including a third ball duck against Bangladesh and dismissed for five by Sri Lanka two years ago; both games West Indies lost.

It is those type of omens that Ireland will be looking to tonight because man for man the West Indies are so much superior but as

Porterfield says: "The West Indians may be specialists, travelling the world in this format of the game and they can be pretty destructive, but they also have the capability of getting out and we will be looking to put pressure on them.

"Those first six overs with bat and ball are going to be crucial. If we can restrict them and then pick up a few wickets that will be the key to the game."