Half centuries from Andrew Balbirnie and Paul Stirling helped Ireland to an emphatic eight-wicket win against Hong Kong in their opening clash in Abu Dhabi.

The pair came together as Ireland lost Kevin O'Brien in the first over - run out without facing - as they chased 154.

Stirling produced a typically boundary laden 62 from just 36 balls ( 8 fours, 2 sixes), setting the tone with a six from the first ball of the innings.

He and Balbirnie added 86 in 10 overs to settle any Irish nerves in a clinical chase against an admittedly weak Hong Kong attack.

Balbirnie's excellent form continued despite the fall of Stirling, as he and teenager Harry Tector steered the chase home. He hit eight fours in an unbeaten 70 from 53 balls, adding an unbroken 59 in 38 balls with Tector (21*).

Earlier Hong Kong's total of 153 was all about Kinchit Shah who top scored with 79 from 54 balls (6 fours, 2 sixes).

Mark Adair was the most success of the Irish attack claiming 2 for 22 as he used his variations well, while Boyd Rankin's four overs cost just 18.

“It’s nice to get a first win on the board, hopefully we can go on from here and keep winning," said Man of the Match Paul Stirling.

"You always feel like you’re in control of the innings when you get off to a quick start like that. It’s a very nice pitch, you always expect a good one at the start of a tournament when they’re fresh – especially in the afternoon when the sun comes out.”

Ireland captain Gary Wilson was more critical of his charges afterwards, stating there was room for improvement despite the comprehensive win. 

“I don’t think we played our best cricket, to be honest. 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 out best.

"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 was outstanding, I think that should be the prototype bowling we’ll aim for. 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 lengths of our balls going forward.

“We look to our next game against the UAE, if we play our best cricket then we’ll be OK. 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.”

Ireland take on hosts UAE at the same venue on Saturday (4.30pm UK/Ireland)