Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
Andrew Balbirnie is available to resume his place in the Ireland team for today's game against Canada at the T20 World Cup qualifiers – a 'must-win' if they are top Group B and go straight through to the finals.
Balbirnie, who missed the game against Oman on Monday with a tummy bug, trained yesterday with the other three members of the squad not involved in the 35 runs victory but Ireland captain Gary Wilson has admitted that Balbirnie may lose his regular place at No 3 in the batting order.
Gareth Delany's man-of the match performance against Oman forced Wilson to admit there were four players who want to bat in the top three and although Delany has been the one to lose out when Paul Stirling, Kevin O'Brien and Balbirnie are in the team, the new kid on the block is battering down the door for inclusion.
"It gives us food for thought," admitted Wilson yesterday, "because we have seen how slow the pitches are out here, so we may need to cash in in the powerplay and he might go up to the top of the order or even No 3.
"It's a big shout because Balbo has done so well. So, we have a few questions to answer, but they are great questions."
Delany has already played 12 times since his debut, against Zimbabwe, in July and his 10 innings have been in five different positions – eight, two, four, seven and three.
The 22-year-old Dubliner proved he could slot in as opener with a half-century from 25 balls against Scotland in the Tri-Series in Malahide and on Monday his 89 not out, at No 3, came off 49 balls. He faced only five balls with the field restrictions but hit the last two to the boundary.
Asked where he preferred batting his answer was diplomatic. "Anyone in T20 wants to play in the powerplay to get as much time as you can, but there are three excellent batters ahead of me so not much I can do. It's great we have Balbo to come back into the side so it can only get better with him in the side."
As Ireland have proved in recent matches, if two of their top four 'come off' then Ireland win. Against Oman it was Gareth Delany and O'Brien, against Hong Kong it was Stirling and Balbirnie and when Stirling had no support against UAE, Ireland lost.
It seems a simple formula but the squad knows it's a winning one although the worry remains the bowling attack which needs a big total to defend. They are still relying too much on Boyd Rankin and Mark Adair and the number of wides (and extra deliveries) continue to mount. Ireland have bowled 58 in their last seven matches against their opponents' 24.
The winning of the group, however, remains in Ireland's hands. UAE's surprise defeat to Jersey yesterday left five teams on four points, Canada having played a game fewer, underlining the significance of today's clash.
"We haven't played them in a long time (since November 2013, at today's venue), but there will be footage for us to study," added Wilson. "But our backs were against the wall yesterday and we came out with an outstanding performance and if we come out like that again, I'm very confident."