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Cricket: Bug hits Irish ahead of key Windies clash

IRELAND experienced the highs and lows of the World T20 in Sri Lanka over the weekend as they prepared for today's do-or-die Group B clash with the West Indies in Colombo.

The high came on Saturday night when Australia beat the West Indies to qualify for the Super Eights and in doing so kept Ireland's interest in the tournament alive.

The lows arrived in the form of a debilitating bug that has hit the squad with such force that it prevented coach Phil Simmons and eight of his players attending what would have been their final practice session ahead of the West Indies game. Antibiotics have been administered and all squad members should be available for selection today, but whether they will be 100pc is another matter.

"It's not been ideal preparation but it is something that happens," said Niall O'Brien, who has not been affected. "I've had something similar before and I know you can find some inner resolve and battle through -- I'm sure that's what the coach will be emphasising.

"Also, it's a Twenty20 -- it's not a long game -- and there will be a lot of adrenalin flowing, so hopefully that will overcome any feeling of illness in the camp."

The Ireland team cheered Australia to victory on Saturday night knowing that, had the result gone the other way, they would not only have had to beat the Windies in the final Group B game but do so by a large margin to reach the Super Eights. Any win now will suffice.

"(Shane) Watson and (David) Warner weren't too popular with us for their chat in the first match but they gave us a little pick-me-up with that win," said O'Brien. "It's winner-takes-all now and the West Indies will be feeling a bit of pressure.

"They've got T20 experts like Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard who can take a game away from you very quickly, but these guys are all human, they can make mistakes and we have to make sure that when they do we take our chances.

"We know we weren't on the top of our game against Australia -- nowhere near -- but with a big crowd behind us, if we can up our performance by 15-20pc, then hopefully that'll be enough for a win."

O'Brien could find himself opening the batting with Paul Stirling -- as he has in training over the past few days -- but the Ireland camp are insisting there is no plan to move captain William Porterfield down the order.

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Irish Independent