IRELAND'S hopes of progressing to the Super Eights of the ICC World Twenty20 were hit this weekend by a mystery bug.

Nine members of the party were laid low by the infection, which has flu-like symptoms, as well as the usual stomach issues that are
frequent in this part of the world.

"Ed Joyce had a dose on Saturday, but he was able to train today so we're hoping it's just a 24 hour bug", media manager Barry Chambers
told the Irish Daily Star yesterday.

George Dockrell, Paul Stirling, Boyd Rankin, Alex Cusack, Gary Wilson and Stuart Thompson all sat out training, with coach Phil Simmons and physio Kieran O'Reilly also ailing.

A doctor visited the team at their hotel in Colombo and the players were treated with anti-biotics.

It's an irritating distraction before today's make-or-break game against West Indies at the R Premadasa Stadium, which starts at 3pm
Irish time.

"It's a straight shoot-out", said William Porterfield, "and we're more than capable of beating them."

Neither is the skipper fazed by thoughts of how to contain the modern master blasters Chris Gayle and Kieran Pollard.

"Gayle and Pollard are twenty20 specialists, they travel the world playing this format.

"But we have our plans and we'll be looking to put them under pressure by restricting their opportunities to score in the first six overs."

Ireland were also concerned with Niall O'Brien's finger, which was damaged by a ball from Boyd Rankin in practice on Thursday.

O'Brien has had ice treatment but took a full part in training yesterday and reported no ill effects.

Australia's defeat of West Indies on Saturday means the winner of today's game will qualify for the Super Eights.

That will mean three games in Kandy, the first on Thursday against India.