Tuesday 21 November 2017

Cricket: Ireland seek vital win against South Africa

Ireland captain William Porterfield hopes the grand surroundings of Kolkata's Eden Gardens can inspire his side to another famous World Cup victory against South Africa tomorrow.

The elation of their historic defeat of England in their second Group B match has been tempered somewhat by defeats to India and the West Indies - results which mean they must win both of their remaining games to qualify.

As the most impressive of the associate nations by a distance they will go in as favourites against Holland in the final qualifying fixture, but before that must take on the Proteas.

Graeme Smith's men are on a high having defeated India last time out, but lost to England in a low-scoring encounter earlier in the competition to show some vulnerability.

Porterfield knows South Africa are one of the best sides around, but with qualification still a burning ambition for the Irish, he is hoping to take something from the historic venue, which is the second biggest cricket arena in the world after the MCG.

"When you come to India you always hear about Eden Gardens, a bit like when you are in England and people talk about Lord's," Porterfield said.

"There's a lot of history here and, of course, it's a massive place. The lads are looking forward to getting out there and to have both of our last two games there is something pretty special."

As for the match itself, Porterfield believes the expectation of a comfortable South Africa win eases the pressure on his side.

"We don't have anything to lose," he said. "Not many people are giving us much of a chance for a game against one of the pre-tournament favourites.

"They've just beaten India and they've had a good tournament so far, but if we play with the freedom and the attacking intent that we have done in every game, who knows?"

All-rounder Andre Botha has been laid low with a sickness bug but is desperate to face the country of his birth, while former skipper Trent Johnston is expected to beat a knee injury to play.

New-ball bowler Johnston missed the West Indies defeat but trained today and should feature.

"If Trent is fit then he plays," Porterfield added. "He's one of your first picks.

"He's a very big player for us. He trained with us here and as long as he has no reaction I think he'll be fine."

Press Association

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