PAUL STIRLING hammered a half-century and was named man of the match as Ireland got their World T20 qualifying campaign off to a winning start with a comfortable 32-run victory over Namibia.
The south-west Africans were the only team to beat Ireland at the last T20 qualifiers, but the prospect of another opening- match upset quickly disappeared as Stirling and captain William Porterfield added 84 in only 8.5 overs.
Porterfield fell for 33 and Stirling followed soon after for 52 from 36 balls, with two maximums among his six boundaries, but the openers had built the platform for a challenging total of 166-5.
Although Namibia also made a bright start – thanks to Trent Johnston strangely losing his radar – the nagging medium pace of Alex Cusack and Kevin O'Brien stemmed the flow of runs in the middle overs. Cusack took two wickets and looked back on top form after a season marred by injuries, while O'Brien's 'pace off' style of bowling is ideally suited to the slow pitches found in the United Arab Emirates.
Such are the bowling resources at his command, Porterfield could afford to ignore John Mooney and only use one over from speedster Max Sorensen as Namibia were restricted to 134-7.
"It was a very solid performance and the pleasing thing is there is still a bit left in the tank," Porterfield said.
"We were happy to make an above par total and then the bowlers did very well. If we play like that through the tournament we'll be ok."
The openness of the 16-team tournament was demonstrated on the first day of qualifiers with Bermuda beating Scotland, Papua New Guinea chasing down 177 to topple Kenya and Ireland's next opponents, Canada, losing to the USA.