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Stirling fitness key as Ireland target Dutch triumph

IRELAND hope to have key batsman Paul Stirling available for their decisive World Twenty20 first-round clash against Holland.

William Porterfield's side top Group B after winning both their previous matches against Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates and would assure their place in the Super 10 stage by maintaining their 100pc record in Sylhet today.

A sizeable net run-rate advantage means they could still go through even if they slip up against the Dutch, but with high-profile matches against England, South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand at stake they will take nothing for granted.

And that makes Stirling's fitness key. The big-hitting opener was forced to retire hurt after being hit on the elbow during the 21-run D/L win over UAE, but he has avoided a break and will face a final check-up before the teams are announced.

"It's just a bit of a soft tissue thing," said Porterfield.

"He had a precautionary X-ray and everything came back clear. He got it on a pretty tender part of elbow but he'll be fine for the game, he'll just ice up and rest up for Friday."


Ireland physio Andrew Dunne added: "I would be hopeful. Without any fracture he can't do any more damage to it but it can still be painful so we'll see how he pulls up in the morning."

Porterfield and coach Phil Simmons face a selection headache between off-spinner Andy McBrine and seamer Tim Murtagh. They have both played a match each thus far, 20-year-old McBrine impressing on debut against Zimbabwe before Murtagh turned in an equally impressive showing when replacing the 20-year-old on Wednesday.

Conditions are likely to play a part, while Stirling's availability and fitness to bowl his deceptive spin may also come into the reckoning, with McBrine a possible beneficiary should he not be ready to contribute with the ball.