Millennium Post

Ireland have necessary firepower to succeed in cricket’s flagship event

Ireland enters the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 as one of the most improved sides in recent years, and one that has built a reputation of being able to pull off stunning wins against Test playing nations.

Ireland has built a ‘giant-killing’ reputation and hence, most teams will be wary of the team as it is eminently capable of beating top sides, as it did at the 2007 World Cup against Pakistan and famously at the 2011 event against England. Led by the experienced William Porterfield and coached by the former West Indies all-rounder Phil Simmons, Ireland will bank on players like Porterfield, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, John Mooney, Ed Joyce and Alex Cusack, who have played in the previous World Cups and have the experience of what it takes to succeed in cricket’s flagship event.

On the other hand, it will also have the flamboyance of youth in the next generation of Irish stars with spinner George Dockrell, the dashing young batsman Andrew Balbirnie, the athletic Stuart Thompson, who boasts an impressive bowling average of 14.50, and pace-man Craig Young, who picked up 5 for 46 on his ODI debut. Young has performed consistently since, and is ready to fill the shoes of the now retired Trent Johnston. The side did suffer a setback on its final preliminary tour of Dubai before coming to Australia and New Zealand, with the loss of Tim Murtagh due to a stress fracture in his right foot. Murtagh has been replaced by pacer Max Sorensen.

World Cup history
Ireland made a dramatic start to its World Cup journey in 2007, when it played out a thrilling tie against Zimbabwe in a Group D match at the Sabina Park in Kingston in Jamaica. In its very next match, Ireland defeated Pakistan by three wickets on St Patrick’s Day, establishing itself as a team to be reckoned with and showing it could also entertain cricket fans to the maximum.

In the 2011 edition, Ireland pulled off a memorable come-from-behind win against England in Bangalore by three wickets. Chasing a daunting target of 328, Ireland was struggling at 111 for 5 at one stage, but Kevin O’Brien then smashed the fastest-ever World Cup century, off just 50 balls, to take the side to a historic win. The team has registered a total of four wins from 15 matches with one match ending in a tie in World Cups so far, and will be participating in its third World Cup.

Ireland is grouped in Pool B along with India, South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe and United Arab Emirates.

The ICC High Performance Programme tour for Ireland, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Scotland gave the Associate nations a chance to acclimatise to the conditions in New Zealand and Australia. The tour gave each team valuable match-time along with a fair idea of what challenges the conditions pose and how best to adapt to the challenge. In captain Porterfield, Ireland has an able leader but more importantly a solid batsman at the top of the order. Young, the 24-year old pacer, impressed everyone with his ability in the recently concluded tri-series between Scotland,

Afghanistan and Ireland in the UAE. Most of Ireland’s players also feature in county cricket, and have gleaned considerable experience.

Ireland will bank on the firepower of Kevin O’Brien, the experience of William Porterfield and Ed Joyce, and its impressive fielding. While losing Tim Murtagh might have been a blow, the man who replaces him, Max Sorensen, is no lightweight and has a very impressive T20 record with Ireland.

Recent Form
The tri-series in the UAE gave Ireland a chance to further fine-tine its game-plan before the World Cup. Ireland lost to Afghanistan by 71 runs in the fifth game and the final match was washed out due to rain, but with two wins in four matches, Ireland won the series.
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