Irish getting closer - Waqar

Pakistan coach impressed after Belfast games

Last Updated: 31/05/11 7:23am

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Stirling: Drew high praise from Waqar after fine century in Belfast defeat

Stirling: Drew high praise from Waqar after fine century in Belfast defeat

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Pakistan coach Waqar Younis delivered an upbeat bulletin on Ireland's future international prospects after their weekend showdowns in Belfast.

Waqar now believes the Irish are only a couple of middle-order batsmen away from becoming more than just competitive irritants on the ODI stage.

"They have a solid top-order, but I think they struggle a bit in the middle order, although they missed a couple of players. They can make a good side, especially in these conditions."
Waqar Younis Quotes of the week

Pakistan eventually came out 2-0 winners over the home side in Belfast, but Paul Stirling in particular came out with huge credit after a scoring a fine century in Monday's defeat

"It was an interesting game. Credit should be given to Ireland, especially Stirling," Waqar said.

"It was one of the best knocks I've seen for a while and shows Ireland have a good team. I think they probably lack one or two batsmen in the middle order.

"They have a solid top-order, but I think they struggle a bit in the middle order, although they missed a couple of players. They can make a good side, especially in these conditions."

Stirling hit 109 from 107 balls to register his first one-day century against a full-member nation and his second in his past three Ireland innings after reaching three figures from 70 balls in their final World Cup game against Holland.

Fine player

"I think he's a fine player," Waqar said of the 20-year-old Middlesex opener.

"He plays proper cricketing shots and you enjoy it as a spectator.

"Even I enjoyed every bit of it because he can hit the ball far, he has got good footwork and he's young.

"He's also young so he has plenty of time and he's not scared of playing shots against any bowler which is brilliant."

Monday's performance was, however, more reflective of the form that had led to widespread calls for Ireland to be given a route back into the World Cup - something Waqar believes they deserve.

"They are a side that attracts everyone. They are big fighters. They love their cricket. They are definitely an upcoming team."

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