Sunday 18 March 2018

Ireland can kick on and rattle India -- Mooney

Gerard Hughes

IRELAND have two very good reasons to ensure tomorrow's clash with hosts India in Bangalore is not a massive anti-climax after their unbelievable World Cup victory over England.

The first is the obvious one of not wanting to let down the fans, as Ireland goes cricket crazy again and the players being swamped with messages of support.

John Mooney confirmed yesterday that one of his team-mates had turned on his computer to find over 350 emails of congratulations after the Group B win against the old enemy.

The second reason is that in a close qualifying group, the fourth place that Ireland are realistically targeting may be decided on run-rate if teams are tied on equal points -- therefore if victory is not possible, the margin of defeat must be as small as possible.

But Mooney, the largely unsung hero of Wednesday night with his four wickets and winning runs, had no such negative thoughts, nor was he worried about the pressure of expectation at home.

"We have our own expectations as a team and what other people expect doesn't really come into our camp," he said. "We're not trying to live up to anything other than the pressure we've put on ourselves.

"Nothing has changed. We go out on the field with the attitude that we are trying to win. We had that attitude against Bangladesh -- and unfortunately it didn't happen for us -- we were the same against England and we'll be the same against India.

"There are a few runs in the pitch here, but it isn't a graveyard if you bowl it in the right areas. Paul Stirling showed on Wednesday that if you put in a good spell, you will get rewarded for it."

Mooney knows that the atmosphere in a packed M Chinnaswamy stadium will be different this time, with all but a couple of hundred fans screaming for the home side.

"It's amazing to play in front of a big crowd and I just try to soak it in," he said. "When you are out there fielding for three hours, it does help to have a bit of banter going on behind.

"When you're batting, you focus on each ball, so that's different. I love the atmosphere because it's not something that happens to me every day of the week."

While Indian supporters are recognised as being the most fanatical in the world, Mooney says the Ireland squad have been bowled over by the reaction at home to beating England.

"The interest has been unbelievable," he said. "I've got a neighbour who is a taxi driver and he said everyone who has been getting into his car this week has been talking about cricket."

When coach Phil Simmons sits down to pick his team today the only change he is likely to make will be to bring back the more experienced Andrew White for Gary Wilson.

Fast bowler Boyd Rankin has been wayward and expensive, but Ireland know that if he comes good, the big man is their best chance of unsettling a line-up that includes Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag -- two of the finest batsmen in history.

Meanwhile, Ireland's hopes of reaching the quarter-finals were not helped by the West Indies thrashing Bangladesh by nine wickets in Dhaka yesterday. The home side's star batsman Tamim Iqbal departed third ball as Bangladesh were bundled out for 58 -- the lowest total by a Test-playing side in the history of the World Cup.

Ireland play the West Indies in Mohali next week -- a match that is likely to be pivotal to both sides' hopes of progressing from Group B.

Ireland v India,

Live, tomorrow, Sky Sports 2 interactive, 9.0am

Irish Independent

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