Cricket: Botha bidding to stake claim for World Cup spot as Ireland face Canada
ANDRE BOTHA will be looking to continue his rehabilitation today when Ireland take on Canada in the first of two one-day internationals in Toronto.
The North County all-rounder has been a lynchpin in the success of the Ireland team over the past decade, but a spate of injuries have left a question mark over his participation in next year's World Cup.
Botha played his first capped match of the summer and scored exactly 100 runs in two innings as Ireland beat Canada in the Intercontinental Cup last week but he was only risked for 12 overs with the ball.
Without both sides of his game in full working order, Botha will struggle for a place in the World Cup squad so he will be keen to show that his 34-year-old body is still up to the task of bowling 10 nagging overs of medium pace.
There are no ranking points at stake in the two Toronto games but with Ireland's county stars missing, there are opportunities for fringe players to press their claims for a World Cup berth.
Pembroke seamer Allan Eastwood is likely to make his ODI debut in one of the games and one-day specialist Nigel Jones is another who has plenty of incentive to shine.
Meanwhile, Eoin Morgan helped England overcome a mid-innings wobble to complete a five-wicket victory against Pakistan in their first Twenty20 match since becoming world champions.
Pakistan, seeking some respite on the field from the 'spot-fixing' crisis, seemed well-placed to go 1-0 up in the two-match series.
But instead, England recovered their composure in Cardiff -- from 62-5 at the half-way point, after losing four wickets for 20 runs -- to run out comfortable winners, in pursuit of 126-4.
An unbroken stand of 67 between Morgan (38no) and Mike Yardy (35no) did the trick to help England coast home with almost four overs to spare as Pakistan's fielding and catching let them down -- Morgan was the beneficiary of a truly horrendous drop by veteran paceman Shoaib Akhtar.
Pakistan's innings, after they had been put in following heavy morning rain and on a cloudy afternoon, was a workmanlike effort.
But spinners Graeme Swann and Yardy bowled five overs in tandem, immediately after the powerplay, in which the former took two wickets and only 14 runs were conceded.
IRELAND (from) -- Trent Johnston (capt, Railway Union), Andre Botha (North County), George Dockrell (Leinster), Phil Eaglestone (Strabane), Allan Eastwood (Pembroke), Nigel Jones (Civil Service North), Rory McCann (Instonians), John Mooney (North County), Kevin O'Brien (Railway Union), Andrew Poynter (Clontarf), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Albert van der Merwe (The Hills), Andrew White (Instonians).