ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Ireland v West Indies, World Cup 2011, Group B, Mohali

Ireland sweat on Johnston fitness

Nagraj Gollapudi in Mohali

March 10, 2011

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Ireland still do not know if Trent Johnston, their main fast bowler, will play against West Indies as they wait anxiously on his fitness. Johnston was one of the best bowlers in the tight loss against India last week in Bangalore, but a knee injury forced him off the field after delivering five overs in which he had taken two wickets. "He did a few laps of the ground, a few sprints and bowled a couple of overs, although it wasn't full pelt. But in the last over he ran in hard. We will see how reacts in the morning and make a call," William Porterfield, Ireland captain said.

Porterfield said that he had not spoken to Johnston after the nets as the bowler was on the physio's table, but remained optimistic. "Bowling 10 overs won't be a problem for him it seems. Standing on the park for 50 overs may be a problem. So we will wait and see how he shapes up tomorrow," Porterfield said.

If Johnston were to sit out it would be huge blow for Ireland, who need to win against West Indies to keep their quarter-finals hopes alive. Johnston has taken two wickets in each of Ireland's three previous matches and is their highest wicket-taker. His accuracy and seaming ability will make him a dangerous bowler on the Mohali pitch, which is on the greener side.

Porterfield is aware of the importance of Ireland's next few games. "We have three games left and we need to win at least two of them so every game is a massive one."


Trent Johnston goes down with a knee injury, India v Ireland, Group B, World Cup 2011, Bangalore, March 6, 2011
Trent Johnston went down injured during Ireland's match against India in Bangalore © Getty Images
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Bowling aside, if Ireland have to survive their batsmen need to put up a good fight. Barring Porterfield, none of the other specialist batsmen like Ed Joyce, Paul Stirling, Niall O'Brien have got a fifty. This could be a golden opportunity for somebody like Joyce, who has only 52 runs from three matches so far, to stand up and deliver, but Porterfield does not think a dramatic change from their performance in previous games is necessary. "We just have to go out there and play the way we have played in the last three games,"

Porterfield knows West Indies are coming into the match on the back of consecutive wins and that they are bound to derive motivation from their rousing win against Bangladesh in Dhaka where the trio of Kemar Roach, Sulieman Benn and Darren Sammy destroyed the Bangladesh batting in 18 overs. Roach would fancy taking the new ball early morning to do an encore tomorrow. But Porterfield is not nervous. "They have a lot of variations in their bowling, but we need to focus on what we are doing right."

Porterfield said Ireland had come far from the last time both sides met during the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean. "[It] wasn't a great performance on the day a couple of years ago in the Caribbean. But we were still a pretty confident side back then. We have done a lot of preparation but we have also grown in experience and stature since then. It has been a long time cricketing-wise. Our side is more experience and lot more confident in our ability."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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