Ireland sweating on O'Brien fitness
Ireland are hoping Niall O’Brien will be fit to help them take on ICC World Twenty20 champions India in their final Group A match at Trent Bridge tomorrow but have admitted they won’t risk him unless he is fully fit.
The odds against the wicketkeeper playing any further part in the tournament looked long, if only for a few seconds, when he was writhing in apparent agony after slipping as he tried to stop a Bangladesh single yesterday.
He recovered to make a significant contribution with the bat at the top of the order - albeit with the help of a runner - to the six-wicket victory which confirmed Ireland’s place in the Super Eights.
William Porterfield’s team therefore do not need to beat India and have confirmed they will take no undue risks with key man O’Brien.
Today’s update was that O’Brien has not needed a scan on his injured right ankle and has suffered no ligament damage - but does have a grade one tendon tear.
While he continued to be monitored closely and sat out this morning’s nets, Porterfield believes he would be a big miss
“He’s obviously one of our key players, and one of the most experienced in this format - so it was bad to see him go down,” he said.
“But we’ve got to keep going on. If he wasn’t fit we’d have to accept it, but we’ve got a good replacement in (wicketkeeper) Gary Wilson and lads who can step in with the bat as well.
“It would obviously be a blow if he wasn’t available. But we hope he will be.”
Ireland will resist gambling on O’Brien in a match which carries no points.
“We’re not going to take any risks with him,” Porterfield spelled out.
“But he’s obviously going to want to play every game for Ireland - and obviously, playing in a World Cup, there’s no bigger stage.
“He’ll want to play, and I’m sure if he’s fit enough he will.”
Porterfield was happy for his team to celebrate their opening victory appropriately last night - but knows they must have their minds and bodies ready again quickly, first to face India and then for a Super Eights opener against New Zealand in Nottingham on Thursday afternoon.
“The lads had a lot of texts and calls yesterday after the game,” said the captain.
“We had a couple of drinks - it’s good to celebrate your wins and your success - but now we’ve got a big game to focus on tomorrow.”
The inconsequential nature of tomorrow’s result will make little difference to the seriousness of Ireland’s preparations.
“The fact we’re playing against the world champions, you don’t need any more motivation than that,” added Porterfield.
“You’re playing for your country, against the best in the world.”
He has great respect too for the opposition.
“The depth in their line-ups is probably one of the strongest here,” he believes.
“But as long as we ‘nail’ our own skills, we’ll have no complaints.
“They’re world champions, so there’s no better team to pit yourself against. It will obviously give us a gauge of where we are and where we need to be in this format.”
That said, Ireland know they have nothing to lose - and therefore ought to be able to play with freedom.
“There’s no real pressure on us,” Porterfield noted.
“All the pressure is on India - they are expected to go out and win, and no-one gives us a chance really.
“We’ve just got to go out there and express ourselves and put on a show.
“The result doesn’t matter in terms of us going through, but obviously momentum is a big thing.
“We’re not thinking too far ahead of ourselves at the moment. But we believe within the squad that we can cause another potential upset.”