MARK ADAIR starred with the ball as Ireland thrashed Jersey by eight wickets in Abu Dhabi to ensure themselves of at least two chances of qualifying for the T20 World Cup finals in Australia next year.

What should be a routine victory over winless Nigeria today (SAT) allied to an improved run-rate, will keep Ireland in the hunt for automatic qualification by finishing top of Group B, and at the very worst means the Boys in Green will finish in the top three.

The teams finishing second and third in each group have to lose twice next week to miss out on the trip Down Under but Ireland may not have David Delany available for the play-offs after the Clontarf speedster limped off midway through his third over.

Adair, who has been the find of the year for Ireland, rocked the Channel Islanders by striking with the fourth ball of the game and then produced one of those rare feats in T20, a wicket maiden in the powerplay, to help peg back a lively opening from the underdogs.

Adair took 3-10 from his four overs and was named man-of-the-match, Craig Young, playing his first game of the tournament, claimed 1-11 and Boyd Rankin grabbed a stunning one-handed return catch for his 50th wicket in T20i as Jersey were bowled out for 105 in exactly 20 overs.

The need was then for Ireland to improve their run-rate and Paul Stirling obliged, hitting 58 not out from 37 balls, and won the match with consecutive sixes at the end of the 14th over. It was the opener’s eighth half-century this year, one more than any one else in world cricket.

“It was obviously very important to bounce back strong [after losing to Canada],” skipper Gary Wilson said. “So it was pleasing to get a win and hopefully we can take the momentum into the final group game and move on from there.

“Run rate will be important, but first we have to win the game. Nigeria are a bit of an unknown quantity for us, so we’ll have a look at the footage from their previous games and look to tackle them the best way possible.”