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Namibia stand in Ireland’s way

CRICKET: Ireland will play Namibia, who have beaten them already, for a place in the World Twenty20 finals in Sri Lanka later this year, after defeating the Netherlands today in Dubai.

Holland batted first and set a modest target of 114 for seven off their 20 overs.

Ireland achieved the win by seven wickets in the 16th over, reaching 115 for three. After his half-century yesterday, Paul Stirling was again the top-scorer for Ireland with 33, before being dismissed lbw. Kevin O’Brien finished not out on 30.

Mickelson won’t panic

GOLF: Phil Mickelson needs to find a big improvement if he is to head into The Masters with another win under his belt.

But whatever happens either at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where an opening 73 yesterday left him seven behind leaders Jason Dufner and Charlie Wi, or next week’s Houston Open, Mickelson cannot wait for the first major of the year.

“I just have this ease going to Augusta because you don’t have to be perfect there,” the three-time champion said.

Four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods is in a tie for fourth following his 69, where his only dropped shot came as a result of three-putting the short 17th.

Justin Rose, looking for his second win in three weeks, matched Woods’s score, while defending champion Martin Laird and Graeme McDowell had 72s and Ian Poulter a 71.

Katie curbs enthusiasm

BOXING: World and European lightweight champion Katie Taylor has dismissed all talk of landslide wins ahead of her double-header with Jessica Belder over the weekend.

Taylor, the world and European 60kg champion, cruised to an emphatic 21-1 decision over Belder when they met in Cork last year.

The Bray woman meets the Dutch lightweight in the main attraction on an Ireland versus Netherlands six-bout women’s international at the National Stadium in Dublin tonight, and the pair will go head-to-head again when the teams meet for a second time in the Cavan Crystal Hotel on Sunday.

Martin’s up to fourth

CYCLING: Daniel Martin of Team Garmin moved up to fourth place overall at the Tour of Catalunya yesterday when he finished in a select front group at the end of stage four in Asco La vostra energia.

Martin finished the race in 17th position, on the same time as Rigoberto Uran of Team Sky, who edged out Denis Menchov (Katusha) and Sylwester Szmyd (Liquigas) in a sprint at the end of the 199km stage.

Nicolas Roche, Martin’s cousin, finished 44 seconds behind the leaders in 31st position, and is in 45th place overall.