World Cup Qualifier: Ireland edge Hong Kong as Paul Stirling shines in Pretoria

Paul Stirling also hit 156 in the victory over Northerns/Easterns XI in the opening warm-up match in Pretoria
Paul Stirling also hit 156 in the victory over Northerns/Easterns XI in the opening warm-up match in Pretoria

A superb 156 from opener Paul Stirling helped Ireland to a three-run win over Hong Kong in a rain-hit World Cup Qualifier warm-up in Pretoria.

Stirling helped Ireland to 284-3 after 45 overs before rain brought an early end to their innings.

A lengthy rain delay led to Hong Kong being set a target of 175 from 20 overs and they came up just short on 171-8.

It was Ireland's final preparation game in Pretoria before travelling to the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe.

Stirling struck his 156 in 128 balls while Ed Joyce added an unbeaten 58 and Andrew Balbirnie hit 37.

Hong Kong needed nine runs from the final over to win but bowler Peter Chase ensured they failed to reach the target.

The Irish beat Northerns/Easterns XI and Netherlands in their opening two preparation matches before a meeting with Scotland was abandoned because of rain.

Ireland have further warm-up matches in Bulawayo against hosts Zimbabwe on 27 February and Scotland on 1 March before relocating to Harare for the main competition.

Their five-team group includes top seeds West Indies with the top three in each of the two groups progressing to a Super Six competition, from which two will go through to the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales.

Ireland World Cup Qualifier squad:

William Porterfield (Formby/Warriors, capt), Andrew Balbirnie (Pembroke/Lightning), Peter Chase (Malahide/Lightning), George Dockrell (Leinster/Lightning), Ed Joyce (Merrion/Lightning), Andrew McBrine (Donemana/Warriors), Barry McCarthy (Durham), Tim Murtagh (Middlesex), Kevin O'Brien (Railway Union/Lightning), Niall O'Brien (Nantwich/Warriors, wk), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), James Shannon (Instonians/Knights), Simi Singh (YMCA/Lightning), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Gary Wilson (Derbyshire, wk).

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