Sunday 25 February 2018

O'Brien desperate to book World Cup ticket

David Townsend

KEVIN O'BRIEN is looking to rubber-stamp his ticket to a third World Cup finals today with victory over the Netherlands in Amstelveen after bowling Ireland to the brink of qualification on Sunday.

The Railway Union all-rounder's best ODI figures of 4-13 condemned the Dutch to an 88-run defeat and left Ireland needing one win or a washout from three games – the last two at home to Scotland – to be sure of flying off to Australia and New Zealand in 2015.

O'Brien has been in the middle of Ireland's successes in 2007 and 2011 – as the pub quiz answer to "who was at the other end when Trent Johnston hit the winning six against Pakistan?" and, of course, playing England for the World Cup's fastest century four years later.

"The second game here is massive because it not only guarantees us qualification, it also means we'll finish top of the group with two games to play," O'Brien said.

"We want to win all three of our remaining games so as not to give any of our rivals at this level even a moral victory. With our run-rate being so good we're already as good as qualified, but we're not going to be taking our foot off the gas."

O'Brien paid tribute to captain William Porterfield who has had a barren season with the bat for county side Warwickshire but provided the backbone of Sunday's total, batting all but five balls of the Ireland innings for 79.

"That was a great knock from 'Porty' and it was a great team performance," O'Brien said. "We've got a lot of strength in depth and if we lose early wickets we can still put a score on the board."

The only change to the Ireland side that coach Phil Simmons might consider would be to bring in The Hills fast bowler Max Sorensen to add a bit of pace to the attack, possibly for Alex Cusack who is struggling for form and fitness.

IRELAND (from): W Porterfield (Capt) (Warwickshire), A Cusack Clontarf), G Dockrell (Somerset), T Johnston (YMCA), E Joyce (Sussex), J Mooney (North County), T Murtagh (Middlesex), K O'Brien (Railway Union), N O'Brien (Leicestershire), M Sorensen (The Hills), P Stirling (Middlesex), G Wilson (Surrey).

Irish Independent

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