Saturday 24 March 2018

Cricket: Ireland brimming with belief

Niall O'Brien Photo: Getty Images
Niall O'Brien Photo: Getty Images

Ireland are on track to meet their World Cup target of reaching the quarter-finals and believe they can upset the West Indies tomorrow, according to Niall O'Brien.

The Northamptonshire wicketkeeper-batsman was a key member of the side that shocked Pakistan to qualify for the Super Eights four years ago and says progression from the group stages is again the aim.

With a longer group phase and no Super Eights round this time, the structure of the 2011 World Cup means the associates must work even harder to get through than before - effectively meaning they must beat two full-member nations.

Ireland have already achieved one shock result of course, with the dramatic three-wicket victory over England in Bangalore still fresh in the memory.

They were spirited in defeat against India four days later but were disappointed to let a winning position slip against Bangladesh in their opening match.

Nevertheless, O'Brien has revealed the team's pre-tournament plans had targeted victory over the Tigers, Holland and tomorrow's opposition the West Indies for qualification - meaning they are exactly where they hoped to be at the halfway stage.

"When we were sat at home with our Christmas dinner a few months ago I think we'd have taken one win from our first three," O'Brien told Press Association Sport.

"We had the Bangladesh game down as one to win and we should have, but they fought back well. But we came back in a big way with the win over England.

"We thought we might not have much chance against India but after victory against England, we were thinking if we'd made 240-250 we could have done it.

"We need two more wins now from three but we have two points already after some very tough games and there's no reason why we can't get four more."

The West Indies were considered vulnerable to an Irish upset at the start of the tournament but with the mercurial Chris Gayle looking in good touch and paceman Kemar Roach taking 11 wickets already, they will be a tough proposition.

Nevertheless, O'Brien is confident of what his side can achieve.

"We have beaten the West Indies before and we can do it again," said the 29-year-old.

"Obviously Gayle is a big player and it's important to get him early because he's a very destructive batsman.

"Darren Bravo is massively talented too and Kemar Roach is going well so they have most bases covered.

"But our confidence has never been low and when you get a great win over England it's a great lift for everyone.

"When you're looking at India and wondering if you can beat them, you can see that.

"We hope to beat most teams but it's fair to say when we saw the group the games we were looking to win were Bangladesh, Holland and the West Indies.

"There is a massive belief in what we can do."

Press Association

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