Ambitious Ireland eager to shine
Pride and World Cup ambition will be at stake for Ireland when they take on England In Bangalore tomorrow.
A surprise victory over their high-profile neighbours would be a first at the fourth attempt in one-day internationals.
It would also be a hugely resonant outcome to those watching in England and Ireland many thousands of miles away - and would take Will Porterfield’s Associate team above Zimbabwe to 10th in the ODI rankings.
More than all of the above, though, Ireland badly need a victory in this second match of their campaign if they are to retain confidence in their ability to reach the quarter-finals.
“For any Irish sports team, playing against an English team is always pretty special for us - and especially to people back home,” said captain Porterfield.
“They always want to see us get one over on the English, so I’m sure there’ll be plenty watching back home hoping for a positive result.”
Ireland will be sporting an array of colourful hairstyles thanks to a hotchpotch of purple, green, pink and blue dye, all in aid of a cancer charity.
But their unusual appearance will belie a determination on the pitch, especially after they put themselves in position to beat co-hosts Bangladesh in Dhaka in their first match only to falter in pursuit of 205.
That was a demoralising setback, but Porterfield is confident Ireland can put the disappointment behind them.
“I think it’s pretty much gone now, mentally,” he added. “The day after the game and that night the lads were pretty gutted. Anyone who loses a game like that, you are going to be pretty down.
“But that’s professional sport. It’s about how you are going to pick yourself back up.”
Ireland’s resolve will doubtless be tested by England, but Porterfield expects them to be up to the challenge.
“We are going to have win at least three of the next five games (to qualify for the quarter-finals), so every game is must-win from here on in,” he said.
“It’s no secret our batting let us down (against Bangladesh). There were a few soft dismissals, and it’s just a matter of being tougher on ourselves.
“We can’t afford to give away a few wickets like that. It’s just a matter of being ’cricket-smart’ when we are out there. Nothing dramatic has to change. We’ve just got to be a bit more ruthless with the bat.”
Ireland have several notable performers, not least 18-year-old left-arm spinner George Dockrell.
Porterfield said: “He’s very new to the game; he only came in last year for T20 and was kind of chucked in at the deep end in the West Indies.
“He hadn’t had much experience before then - only one Under-19s World Cup under his belt. But he’s taken everything in his stride.
“He’s a pretty level-headed young guy - just finished school. He’s pretty chilled-out and laid back and everything’s gone pretty well for him so far. He’s got all the attributes to be a fantastic bowler.”
Porterfield retains great faith too in pace bowler Boyd Rankin, despite figures of 0-62 in nine overs against Bangladesh.
“He went for a few in Dhaka, but that can happen to anyone,” he said. “I still think he is one of our main wicket-taking threats. He may go for a few runs, but as we’ve seen in this tournament, you need to be able to take wickets to peg things back.
“He’s one of our main wicket-takers, so I’m pretty confident he can bounce back.”
Dockrell, Porterfield and Rankin all have current contracts with English counties - and the skipper senses Irish cricket is on an upward curve.
“I think we are,” he said. “It’s not just the big tournaments we’re improving in; it’s more and more games against the full members.
“We’re starting to get a squad with a little more depth. We have more than 15 - whereas in the past the 15 would pick itself. There’s a lot more disappointed people and competition for places.”
Ireland have a fully-fit squad to choose from for tomorrow’s match.