ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
India v Ireland, Group B, World Cup 2011, Bangalore
Buoyant Ireland face up to Indian batting colossus
The Preview by Liam Brickhill
March 5, 2011
Match factsMarch 6, Bangalore
Start time 2.30 pm (0900 GMT)
A week ago it would have been hard, if not impossible, to countenance the thought of an Ireland win over India. What a difference a week makes. After their stunning win over England, Ireland will believe they have the ability to take on anyone, and while India will undoubtedly be respected they will not be feared.
Ireland are coming up against one of the most formidable batting line-ups in world cricket on a featherbed at the Chinnaswamy stadium, however, and as they prepare to do battle with a top six that packs a whopping 44,503 ODI runs between them (although 17,777 belong to one man) perhaps a little fear wouldn't go amiss. There are significant dangers lurking in India's bowling line-up too. Ireland's XI is likely to have no less than five left-handers in it, and despite the docile playing surface, the challenge of countering multiple offspinners - and possibly Piyush Chawla's googly too - will be a daunting task.
Ireland will insist they're up for it, and after Wednesday night's events, who could argue with them? But if Ireland appear a team transformed, that is only in the eyes of those not close to the setup. Several players, including captain William Porterfield and allrounder John Mooney, have insisted that the result achieved against England is the sort the team go into all their games believing they can pull off.
That may be true, but whether they can convert belief into performance against the World Cup favourites, in the hothouse atmosphere sure to be provided by India's fanatical supporters, remains to be seen. India's fans were always going to pack the stands to watch their heroes, and tickets for this match sold out some time ago, but there is a lustre and sense of anticipation - not to mention the whispers of an upset - now that there might not have been before Kevin O'Brien's giant-killing epic.
There was similar talk before India's World Cup opener against Bangladesh, but the imperious ease of their eventual win made that sound like a misguided fantasy. While India's opinion of Ireland may well have changed in the last week, they will expect nothing less on Sunday.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for ...
It's almost superfluous to point out that all eyes will be on Kevin O'Brien when he comes out to bat on Sunday, but it could hardly be any other way after his record-breaking hundred. The burly allrounder was brutally dismissive of both pace and spin against England and there's no reason to think he'll play any differently against India - although this time he won't have the crowd's support when he does so.
It's no secret that international sides have attempted to counter Yusuf Pathan's destructive big-hitting by targeting him with short-pitched fast bowling. Ireland lack the firepower to adopt the same approach and Boyd Rankin, the 6' 6" seamer, is the only bowler who'll come close to troubling him. If Yusuf gets going India could post a total out of the reach of even O'Brien's expansive reach.
MS Dhoni didn't give anything away when asked about a likely playing XI on the eve of the game, but appeared to confirm the rumour that Ashish Nehra was match-fit once more. India will play to their strength, which is batting, and that's likely to leave four spots up for grabs for the bowlers. The same group that played against England - Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla - is the logical conclusion.
India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 MS Dhoni (wk/capt), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Piyush Chawla, 11 Munaf Patel
Ireland were forced to make some last-minute changes to their line-up against England, with allrounder Andre Botha's unavailability meaning wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Wilson slotted in at No. 5. Botha is one of Ireland's most accomplished bowlers in the end overs - his accuracy and canny changes of pace brought him three cheap wickets against Bangladesh - and if he is match-fit, he'll play. Otherwise, Ireland have little reason to change the team that beat England.
Ireland (probable): 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Ed Joyce, 4 Niall O'Brien (wk), 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Alex Cusack, 7 Andre Botha/Gary Wilson, 8 John Mooney, 9 Trent Johnston, 10 George Dockrell, 11 Boyd Rankin
Pitch and conditions
The pitch used will be the same one that produced 676 runs in India's game against England. It wore a green and grassy look on Saturday, though that may well change after it's been shaved and rolled, and though a dryer surface might give a little more help to the spinners (and help scuff up the ball and aid reverse swing later on), it's unlikely to be greatly dissimilar to the pitches seen here in recent times. Expect another high-scoring game on what should be a bright, sunny afternoon and a warm, clear evening.
Stats and trivia
- The County cricketers in Ireland's team will no doubt have helped them puncture England's aura, but their experience against India is limited to a one-off match in Belfast in June 2007 that resulted in a nine-wicket win for India. There've been extensive changes to both line-ups since, but they will at least have some experience of facing the likes of Sreesanth and Piyush Chawla, although they will not have many happy memories of that experience as Chawla picked up 3 for 29, dismissing Kevin O'Brien for just 3, to rip the stuffing out of Ireland's middle order.
- Gary Wilson, who played in the match against England, made his ODI debut in the 2007 game against India.
- Kevin O'Brien became Ireland's leading run-scorer in ODIs in the course of his century against England, and now has 1,486 runs at 36.24. He's also hit 40 sixes in ODIs, almost double the number of anyone else in Ireland's squad.
- Before this tournament started, the warm-up matches in Bangalore suggested conditions might favour spinners, but the ground has since produced 1,332 runs in just two games. The average score in the last three full internationals played here is 328.
- The two men opening the batting for India, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, have scored more runs at the Chinnaswamy Stadium than anyone else. Tendulkar leads the way with 496 runs at 49.60, while Sehwag has 323 at 64.60 - although he's never scored an ODI hundred here. Zaheer Khan leads the way with wickets, having taken 11 at 30.18.
"We have done the servicing and overhauling of all the cars for the race, and if at night there's no electrical failure then everyone will be available, so we'll pick the best XI cars."
MS Dhoni cannot hide his enthusiasm for motor-vehicles while discussing the team selection
"If you can't go out there and get up for a game in front of 40-50,000 people then I think there's something wrong with you. Whether they are for you or against you, it doesn't matter. Obviously we will be looking to silence them as well."
William Porterfield, the Ireland captain, is not worried about the pressures of a partisan crowd cheering against his team