Can Balbirnie's boys make Hobart home? Ireland T20 World Cup Preview
Andrew Balbirnie (c), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Stephen Doheny, Fionn Hand, Josh Little, Barry McCarthy, Conor Olphert, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Graham Hume.
Best Finish at Tournament
Super 8s (2009)
Ireland’s group stage match with Bangladesh was essentially a winner-takes-all affair, and all five of William Porterfield’s bowlers claimed wickets to hold their opponents to just 137.
On a surface at Trent Bridge that Bangladesh found tricky, the O’Brien brothers stuck to their guns. Niall made a 25-ball 40 to set up the chase, while Kevin's blitz of 39* off 17 quashed any doubt to hand Ireland a Super 8s spot.
Results in the last 10 games
(most recent first): W L L W W L L L L L
v Zimbabwe (17 October), Bellerive Oval, Hobart
v Scotland (19 October), Bellerive Oval, Hobart
v West Indies (21 October), Bellerive Oval, Hobart
v Zimbabwe - 17 October - In a fierce First Round Group, Ireland must hit the ground running and make the most of the Hobart conditions that should favour them over their Full Member rivals. If they were to fall to Zimbabwe, Ireland would need to beat both Scotland and the West Indies to keep their Super 12 hopes alive.
Paul Stirling - A regular of Ireland’s side for 15 years, Stirling sits as the fifth-highest run scorer in men's T20 internationals, as one of six men to pass 3000 runs. No other Ireland player has crossed the 2000-mark as yet.
Still with his head and smart with subtle footwork, Stirling has a knack of staying leg-side of the ball to quick bowlers, slashing square on the off-side, though has an array of cross-bat shots against fast-bowlers and opposition spinners, disrupting their lengths.
Stirling’s impact will be pivotal, and is the cornerstone of the line-up even irrespective of the collective young talent around. A fan of a quicker surface, Stirling should relish Bellerive Oval in spite of a struggle on slower pitches in the Caribbean.
While things went pear-shaped for the men in neon green last year, the Ireland camp will feel a little more optimistic this time around.
As two generations attempted to combine in the 2021 effort, the younger group are slowly making the side their own. Despite the loss of a retiring Kevin O’Brien, the side has built a batting line-up capable to exploit the Powerplay overs and accelerate through the middle, and should be able to compete with their First Round adversaries in terms of firepower.
Gareth Delany continues to fulfil his potential and Harry Tector has been performing across franchise and international cricket. Wicket-keeper Lorcan Tucker has moved along also with the bat, and kept his spot in the team over former Zimbabwe international PJ Moor, who was eligible for the tournament.
On the bowling side, Ireland will need to fill the void left by an injured Craig Young, who was a withdrawal after the side arrived in Australia. Graham Hume replaces Young, with David Delany, already based in Melbourne, overlooked. Hume will join the team in time for warm-up matches against the West Indies and Namibia.
With more than 20 T20Is played this year alone, no one can question Ireland's rigorous preparation, though the side have lost a dozen of those matches, with a record of just three wins in 12 matches against Full Member opposition.
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