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Zimbabwe result may haunt Ireland at T20

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Ireland head coach Phil Simmons. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Ireland head coach Phil Simmons. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Ireland head coach Phil Simmons. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

CRICKET: Ireland may yet live to regret not beating Zimbabwe far more convincingly in their opening World T20 group match in Bangladesh on Monday.

In the short term, the scrambled last-ball victory in Sylhet leaves both teams almost equal on net run rate – a determining factor if Ireland do not win their remaining Group B games against the UAE today and the Netherlands on Friday, and two or more teams finish level on points.

Ed Joyce's post-match observation that Ireland should have got home with an over to spare was extremely conservative – with 36 needed from six overs and eight wickets in hand, the match should not have reached the 19th over, never mind the last ball of the 20th.

Phil Simmons (pictured) agreed that Ireland should have won "far more easily," but was pleased to see openers Paul Stirling and William Porterfield getting back to the form that was instrumental in Ireland winning the pre-qualifying tournament in the UAE in November.

"Getting off to a good start is so important in these T20 games," Simmons said. "The guys didn't play any big shots – just proper cricket shots – but we still went along at 10 an over in the first six overs and we have to continue in that vein."

TIRRENO-ADRIATICO WIN SHOWS CONTADOR FORM

CYCLING: Alberto Contador won the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy yesterday to signal a return to form after going all of last year without a victory in multi-stage races.

The five-time Grand Tour winner finished two minutes, five seconds ahead of Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana in the overall standings. Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo teammate Roman Kreuziger placed third, 2:14 behind. Contador won mountain stages on Saturday and Sunday in dominating fashion. His last major win was the 2012 Spanish Vuelta.

Adriano Malori, an Italian with Movistar, won the concluding nine-kilometre (5.7-mile) time trial in 10 minutes, 13 seconds.

Swiss maestro Fabian Cancellara finished second in the stage, six seconds behind, and Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins was third, 11 seconds back.

Many riders used the race as a warm-up for Sunday's Milan-San Remo classic.

BACK PROBLEM MAKES WOODS MASTERS DOUBT

GOLF: Tiger Woods is in danger of missing his first Masters tournament because of injury.

The world number one admits he does not know if he will line up in the Augusta event next month due to back trouble.

Woods has not missed a Masters since making his debut as an amateur in 1995 and has won the event four times.

The 38-year-old announced yesterday that he would be unfit to play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a PGA Tour event which begins on Thursday at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando.

Woods hopes to recover for the Masters, which begins on April 10.


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