Tuesday 12 November 2019

Cricket World Cup Diary: 'Pakistan game will be biggest in our history'

Niall O’Brien plays a shot against India during yesterday’s World Cup match
Niall O’Brien plays a shot against India during yesterday’s World Cup match

Niall O'Brien

THERE's five teams certainly through to the quarter-finals and there's four teams battling for the final three places. The fact that we're one of those four going into the final stages is the reason why the mood is still good.

We still have it in our own hands and know that several teams would love to be in the position we find ourselves in. Pakistan will be an extremely difficult test but it's still up to us.

India are a superb side and, just like after the defeat against South Africa, we've got to be realistic. That said, they certainly knew they were in a game when William Porterfield and Paul Stirling came flying out of the blocks and it took some fine bowling for them to drag the game back.

The opening stand was comfortably the highest one which India have conceded so far in this tournament - as was our eventual total - but we knew we could have got a score of above 300.

Momentum

We spent a lot of the winter working on not losing wickets in pairs but that's what we did and it halted our momentum several times just as we were looking to push on.

I came in at four after Ed Joyce was out early but because the two openers had given us such a flying start and got us ahead of the game, I knew I had a little bit of time to get my eye in starting off against spin.

Ravi Ashwin is one of the best spinners in the world so we had to watch him closely but I knew there would be a chance to catch up to around a run-a-ball strike rate later on.

I managed to do that with 75 off as many balls including one shot which the fielder very kindly parried over the boundary rope for six just after I'd reached my half century.

We were looking to push on a bit and, as I started to come down the wicket, the plan had been to hit the ball to the other side of the ground. It was a quick adjustment and a bit of an ugly hoick but it all looks the same in the scoreboard.

Andy Balbirnie was giving me a bit of stick for aiming at the biggest boundary on what is generally a small ground but it got there which was the main thing and I was able to add a few more runs.

Unfortunately, I got out soon after and we fell away to finish up with a score (259) that, realistically, was never going to be enough.

We knew we would have a second bite at the cherry on Sunday against Pakistan so the mood in the camp is grand.

It's never a good day to lose but we walked away from the ground with our heads held high and really focused on what will be the biggest game in Ireland's cricket history.

Pakistan have some excellent left-arm quick bowlers in their line-up so we'll have to play well but that's a given at this stage of a competition when you're trying to get into the quarter-finals for the first time.

Sunday will be two days short of the eight-year anniversary of that famous St Patrick's Day win against them in Kingston which really launched many of this team on the world stage.

We've a chance to make even more history for Irish cricket and there's a belief amongst the team that we can do it. The celebrations in Kingston were legendary - they'll be even greater if we can beat them again in Adelaide.

Irish Independent

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