O'Brien eager to get back in the middle
After being inundated by messages of congratulation and called by the president of Ireland, Kevin O’Brien has warned India he is ready to get back to what he does best: hitting sixes.
O’Brien became one of the stars of the World Cup by scoring the fastest hundred in the tournament’s history and leading his side to a historic win over England in Bangalore.
O’Brien’s 63-ball 113 contained 13 fours and six sixes as he flayed England’s attack to all parts in pursuit of a recaord winning target of 328.
He has understandably been besieged by well-wishers, including Irish premier Mary McAleese, in the aftermath but is now preparing to attempt more fireworks against the World Cup favourites and co-hosts tomorrow.
“There’s been a fair bit of interest on Facebook, a few messages of support and well over 100 texts,” said O’Brien.
“It’s been very pleasing to have that backing and it’s great to hear the Irish cricketing public are going mad back home.
“The president rang our tour manager yesterday and I spoke to her for a couple of minutes. It’s always nice to a get a call from the president of your country but I’m still focused on this tournament, starting with India.
“It’s a difficult game but one I’m really looking forward to. It’s not every day you play in front of 50,000 screaming fans and it’s no pressure at all.
“It’s always great to see supporters and it won’t affect the way I play. I’ll be looking to get myself in on what is a pretty flat wicket and if the ball is there to hit then I’m going to back myself to hit it.
“Phil Simmons is quite a relaxed coach when it comes to my game; he just tells me to get in and once I’m in to really attack.
“It doesn’t matter if I take 30 balls to score five or 10 runs because if I face another 70 I know I can make a hundred.”
One player who adopts an even more gung-ho approach is Virender Sehwag and O’Brien admits the India opener has been a big influence on him.
“India’s batting line-up is fantastic. If it’s not the best in the World Cup then I don’t what is,” he added.
“I love watching Sehwag bat - it’s his carefree approach. Even if it’s first ball of a Test match, if it’s there to hit he’ll hit it and that’s a great approach.”
However, India’s strength with the bat has forced captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to reject claims his side should bolster their bowling in Bangalore.
When asked today if he planned to drop a batsman, Dhoni said: “I will be inclined to play with seven batsmen because you should always back your strength, which is batting. You should not be in a situation where you find you are 30 runs short."
Dhoni anticipates another flat track against an Ireland side buoyed by their stunning victory over England.
“That is what you can expect tomorrow. It is difficult to say whether it will turn or not,” he added.
“In the last two games we have seen high-scoring games with close to 1,400 runs scored. Hopefully, we will have another high-scoring game.
"So far, batting under lights has been quite easy. In the afternoon, the ball stops a bit and spinners get help, but the pitch becomes placid later.”