Tuesday 23 May 2017

Cricket: Ireland eyeing further scalps

Kevin O'Brien Photo: Getty Images
Kevin O'Brien Photo: Getty Images
John Mooney celebrates scoring the winning runs against England. Photo: AP
Man of the Match Kevin O'Brien (left) celebrates with brother Niall after Ireland's victory over England in the 2011 ICC World Cup Group B clash in Bangalore yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
England's captain Andrew Strauss congratulates Ireland's Paul Stirling after the game. Photo: PA
Kevin O'Brien's brothers Conor and Gerard and his nephew Sean cheer at their home in Terenure, Dublin

Ireland are far from satisfied with one shock win over World Cup heavyweights England - and are now setting their sights on another seismic result against tournament favourites India.

Kevin O'Brien's fastest century in the history of the competition, from only 50 balls, flummoxed England in Bangalore last night as Ireland pulled off the highest-ever World Cup run chase.

But not content with that resounding claim to fame, Ireland are hoping to complete a notable double at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium when they take on the might of India in Group B on Sunday.

Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom confirmed celebrations continued long into the night at Ireland's team hotel.

But recalling their triumph over Pakistan at the last World Cup in the Caribbean, he made it clear they are targeting at least one more major scalp in the sub-Continent to demonstrate their progress in the intervening four years.

"It was a huge result, and a huger night," Deutrom said as he reflected on the O'Brien-inspired three-wicket win over a hapless England.

More of the same is anticipated too, within Will Porterfield's team.

"It was noticeable the players were not triumphant," added Deutrom.

"The big difference between 2007 and 2011 was that four years ago beating Pakistan felt like winning the World Cup.

"This time there is genuine belief that a result like last night can happen again.

"Chasing 300 on that track in that stadium in a World Cup, we have shown we can do it.

"So why not on Sunday against India? That would be some story."

Ireland have two points on the board, having disappointingly lost their opening match against Bangladesh.

Deutrom said: "They will probably need two more wins to reach the quarter-finals, and that is their target.

"That is the big shift from the last World Cup."

That is not to say Ireland have not celebrated their notable success so far.

"We shouldn't underplay the significance of beating England on the global stage in the World Cup," added Deutrom.

"But in terms of the tournament itself, cricket followers will have seen a team last night that is a genuine contender for the quarter-finals - even the semis.

"We demonstrated that against England, one of the favourites for the tournament - and we proved that anything can happen on the day.

"That was only our second one-day international under lights - the first, incidentally, was against Bangladesh last Friday."

Deutrom identified England's failure to capitalise properly with the bat in the final five overs of their innings - as well, of course, as O'Brien's astounding 50-ball hundred - as the telling factors in Ireland's victory.

"The way that Ireland closed out the game from 111 for five was unbelievably professional," he said.

Ireland know more success is probably required to help convince the International Cricket Council that the proposed reduction of this tournament to 10 teams for its next edition - with associate members such as themselves therefore absent - should be reconsidered.

"Ireland and the associates firmly believe that 10 teams (in the next World Cup) are too few.

"But the decision whether there will be a qualifying tournament is still on the table.

"A World Cup should demonstate not just the quality on display, but the breadth and scope of the world game and the chance of an upset.

"But no one can deny that Ireland have brought quality to this World Cup. To take that possibility away from a World Cup is wrong."

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