Andy Balbirnie top-scored in both T20 World Cup qualifier warm-up matches over the weekend but after seeing off Oman by nine wickets in Muscat on Saturday, Ireland suffered familiar failings in losing by 13 runs to the United Arab Emirates.

With just today’s final game against Nepal to come before the start of the qualifying campaign on Friday, the Boys in Green are still no closer to settling on a winning batting line-up with boundaries again elusive in the middle order.

The top three of Paul Stirling, Balbirnie and Gareth Delany will have no peers in the eight-team tournament but after that big-hitting triumvirate there is little to inspire confidence and Ireland could pay for dropping Kevin O’Brien.

Skipper Balbirnie went some way to justifying his elevation to replace veteran O’Brien by striking 75 not out against Oman, and with opening partner Stirling making yet another T20i half-century, his 27th, Ireland passed their hosts’ 137 all out with 17 balls to spare.

Balbirnie gave his side another fine start with 42 from 27 balls as they looked to better the UAE’s 178-5 yesterday and Delany smashed 40 off 20 balls, including five fours and two maximums to lift Ireland to 92-3 after 10 overs.

But a familiar lack of boundaries and loss of momentum followed Balbirnie’s dismissal and interim coach David Ripley will surely have to rejig the order against Nepal, by moving Lorcan Tucker to No 4 after his successes in the USA.

The Ireland management team must know by now that Curtis Campher, who made a stodgy 40 from 39 balls, does not score quickly enough at this stage of his career to bat above Tucker, nor indeed anywhere in the top six.

It would be a bold but not unjustified move to replace Campher in the starting XI with all-rounder Andy McBrine, the star of the ODI series win against the West Indies last month, who has rejoined the squad after a positive Covid test.

The good news from the weekend is that the bowling attack looks in good order. Off-spinner Simi Singh produced the standout performance with 3-9 against Oman, while seamer Craig Young claimed an excellent 4-28 in yesterday’s losing cause.