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Irish in running for Twenty20 Jones backs Thomas Petra pulls off upset

CRICKET: Ireland are back into the running for a place at the Twenty20 World Cup finals after a walloping 78-run victory over the USA in the second qualifying match in Abu Dhabi.

Coach Phil Simmons could not have asked for a better reaction to Tuesday's narrow defeat by Afghanistan as his wounded side stormed to a record 202-4 against a team that had beaten Scotland the day before.

Niall O'Brien top-scored with 84 from just 50 balls, putting on 83 for the first wicket with William Porterfield (45) in 8.3 overs before Peter Connell ripped through the Americans' top order to return his best figures of 4-14. O'Brien hoisted two sixes in addition to his 10 fours, Porterfield also cleared the ropes in his 45 and Alex Cusack joined in the fun with a couple of maximums before he was caught for 46.

When the USA slumped to 25-6 in reply, a record margin of victory looked likely, but after Connell and Trent Johnston (2-17) bowled out their overs, the pressure was off and the Americans scrambled to 124-6.

The size of the victory was important, though, because Ireland may go into their final Group A game today knowing they can narrowly lose to Scotland and still qualify for the Super Fours.

Jones backs Thomas

RUGBY: Wales captain Ryan Jones has backed the "all-action" style of Jonathan Thomas to make an impact in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash against Scotland. Ospreys forward Thomas wins his 52nd cap, but it will be his first start at lock since helping Wales smash Japan 98-0 in 2004.

"JT has matured superbly over the last couple of years," said the skipper. "He brings a lot of knowledge and experience, he is very composed and logical at lineout time and he also brings an edge."

Vancouver battling

OLYMPICS: Organisers of the Vancouver Olympics insist their rescue effort, which has led to tons of snow being trucked to one skiing venue, will ensure the Games go ahead as planned. The warmest January on record in the Canadian city has led to serious problems with a lack of snow at Cypress Mountain.

Petra pulls off upset

TENNIS: Croatian wild card Petra Martic caused the upset of the day at the Open GDF Suez in Paris by ousting third-seeded Belgian Yanina Wickmayer. Martic clinched her place in round two in the French capital with a hard-fought 6-4 3-6 7-5 victory over the world no 15.


NBA: Atlanta 76 Miami 94, Toronto 104 Philadelphia 93, Detroit 97 Sacramento 103, New Jersey 77 Milwaukee 97, Chicago 87 Orlando 107, Minnesota 92 Charlotte 93, New Orleans 93 Boston 85.