Ireland expect to be at full strength
A tight schedule prompted Ireland to rest a couple of key players, who were carrying injuries, from their game against India but they expect to field a full-strength team, with Niall O'Brien and Trent Johnston returning, for their Super Eights opener against New Zealand at Trent Bridge.
Ireland finished their last group game against India at close to 9.00 pm on Wednesday and are due to take the field at 1.30 pm on Thursday. The quick turnaround made the team give their wicketkeeper O'Brien and Johnston a day longer to recover from injuries sustained during the victory against Bangladesh. O'Brien injured his ankle in the final over of Bangladesh's innings while Johnston aggravated a shoulder problem while diving for a catch.
"I think if push came to shove, Niall could have played tonight," William Porterfield said after the defeat to India. "The risks of playing him today outweighed the game tomorrow. We thought we'd leave it to tomorrow and obviously the 24 hours of extra rest will do him a world of good. Trent was a slight concern. Although he would have been bowling only four overs, there was still a chance he could have made the injury worse. He'll be fit for tomorrow."
The injury problems of their opponents, however, have not eased and they barely have enough fit players to choose a XI from. New Zealand have lost Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder to injuries and their captain Daniel Vettori is also uncertain for the game. Allrounder James Franklin also had a knee problem although he could play. Porterfield said that Ireland were not concerned about their opponents but a depleted New Zealand side could be the slice of luck Ireland need to pull off an upset.
"As long as we've got our full 15 to pick from, and can play our strongest 11, I'd be happier with that as opposed to them losing players," Porterfield said. "It would be a bit of a boost to us if they are missing key players. But it's not going to be easy no matter what team New Zealand put out."
Ireland finished second in Group A by beating Bangladesh and are pooled with New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the Super Eights.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo