Ireland batsman Andy Balbirnie and allrounder Stuart Thompson have been ruled out of the Desert T20 Challenge in the UAE after sustaining injuries at Ireland's final training session on the eve of the tournament.
Balbirnie suffered a strained glute muscle and will be out of action for one to two weeks, according to Ireland team manager Chris Siddell, while Thompson strained ligaments in his right ankle when he landed awkwardly on the thick boundary rope at Sheikh Zayed Stadium during a catching and six-saving drill. Thompson was seen on crutches wearing a cast after Ireland's five-wicket loss to Afghanistan on Saturday and is expected to be out of action for at least a month.
"It was just devastating for them for the hard work that they've put in to recover from their various illnesses and injuries," Ireland coach John Bracewell after the Afghanistan loss. Balbirnie had been out for most of 2016 after hip surgery - which contributed to the loss of his Middlesex contract - while Thompson was attempting to make his Ireland return in this tournament after taking indefinite leave in June to get treatment for performance anxiety.
Stuart Poynter and Lorcan Tucker are the two replacement players who were drafted into the Ireland squad for this tournament in place of Balbirnie and Thompson. Despite arriving at 2 am, about 17 hours before the first ball was bowled, Poynter was slotted in to open the Ireland batting and made 18 off 20 balls.
Ireland captain William Porterfield revealed after the match that Thompson had been set to open the batting with Paul Stirling and the team felt inserting Poynter in that vacated slot was the best option to avoid further disrupting their batting plans. Tucker arrived in the country while the match was in progress, leaving Ireland 13 fit players to choose from against Afghanistan but should be available for their next match against Namibia on Tuesday.