CRICKET: Ireland hit by double injury blow

Ireland's Andrew Balbirnie.
Ireland's Andrew Balbirnie.
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Ireland have been dealt a double injury blow ahead of their opening Desert T20 international clash with Afghanistan on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.

Both Andrew Balbirnie and Stuart Thompson have been ruled out of the tournament. The Event Technical Committee has approved Stuart Poynter replacing Balbirnie, and Lorcan Tucker will replace Stuart Thompson - subject to approval.

Top order batsman Balbirnie failed a late fitness test having sustained a glute strain, while all-rounder Thompson suffered an ankle injury during training on Friday.

A Cricket Ireland spokeperson said: “It’s unfortunate for both players who were keen to re-establish themselves in the squad having missed most of the 2016 season.

“Stuart Poynter and Lorcan Tucker are both excellent replacements who I’m sure will acquit themselves well given the opportunity.”

Twenty-year-old Tucker made his debut last season against Hong Kong, while 26-year-old Poynter has played ten T20 internationals for Ireland.

Ireland have been drawn in Group A of the eight-team Desert T20 tournament, against hosts UAE, Afghanistan and Namibia.

Ireland’s opening match with Afghanistan at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium gets under way at 3pm (UK/Ireland).