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World Cup 2011

Ireland seek to repeat giant-killing act

Firdose Moonda in Kolkata

March 14, 2011

Comments: 13 | Text size: A | A

Reputations get built over time, with each year, each achievement, each failure and each memory adding to the album that will eventually get labelled as "so-and-so's record." The more important a person gets, the more difficult it becomes to maintain, like a vintage vehicle which always needs some work done on it to keep it going.

Ireland have exactly that sort of reputation. After their heroics at the 2007 World Cup, there was keen interest in whether they could repeat it at this tournament. After they stunned England, there's now keen interest in whether they can upset another big team and if they manage that, there'll be interest in how far they can go.

It creates a different pressure to the kind that the likes of India, South Africa and Australia face, it's a pressure of hope rather than a pressure of expectation, but it too can take its toll. William Porterfield, though evergreen as a leprechaun, may be starting to feel some of it. "South Africa were obviously one of the pre-tournament favourites and they have just beaten India in a good game of cricket as well," he said at the pre-match press conference in Kolkata. "We don't have anything to lose."

Besides a little bit of reputation and an outside chance making the quarterfinals, Porterfield is right. South Africa, on an upward trajectory after their win over India, are looking to seal the deal to the last eight and will probably aim to be merciless in doing so. They're unlikely to experiment, given the magnitude of the game and how wary they are of the opposition and the possibility of slipping up. Ireland can therefore do nothing but go in with that attitude. "We've played a couple of big teams now and teams that have been in form," Porterfield said. "South Africa are no different. They'll be in pretty high spirits and pretty confident. They're a top-class side. It's just another challenge for us."

William Porterfield and Kevin O'Brien share a thought during practice
William Porterfield's batsmen, and Kevin O'Brien in particular, will be keen for another giant-killing act © AFP

Keeping up appearances may be on Ireland's mind, but they're also grounded enough to know that there is a cricket match to concentrate on. Porterfield said that they've done their homework on the pitch and expect it to offer more for the seamers than some of the other surfaces they have encountered thus far. That could mean an immediate recall for Trent Johnston, who was out with a bruised knee, which he sustained while playing against India. "If Trent's fit, he plays," Porterfield said. "He's one of your first picks."

More than the bowling, Ireland have batting concerns with the 7 for 54 collapse against West Indies nullifying the 7 for 57 they managed with the ball. Kevin O'Brien, in particular, gets mentioned as a concern - largely because of the reputation he created for himself with the century that won the match against England. Since then, he has done little else and expectation is growing for him to produce again. "He can come off on any given day," Porterfield said. "He's had a couple of low scores but he hasn't faced many balls. He hasn't been struggling in the nets and he hasn't been struggling for form."

O'Brien is probably the one member of the squad who truly understands how quickly a reputation is built and how soon it needs to be fed. Although it hasn't reached starvation point yet, he'll know that one more big performance is probably required in this tournament for them to have fully serviced the car. Someone asked Porterfield if this was Ireland's last chance to make an impact and he answered using a phrase his opposite number Graeme Smith has repeated. "If we go out and do that and leave everything on the pitch, I'm happy."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Comments: 13 
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Posted by colm on (March 15, 2011, 19:42 GMT)

Please Fahim Payabzai tell me when you have beaten Ireland five times consecutively, we have barely played Afghanistan in five matches, and the last time we played was in the ICC World Cricket League Division One - 4th match,

Ireland 237/9 (50 ov); Afghanistan 198 (47.1 ov) - Ireland won by 39 runs,

also in the Sri Lanka Associates T20 Series - 2nd match we beat Afghanistan by 5 wickets, but Afghanistan did beat Ireland in the warm-up T20 game for the World Cup...

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2011, 14:43 GMT)

imagine if Afghans would have played in this world cup :) we have beaten the irish team 5 times consecutively in ODIs...but it is a shame that the Afghans are not playing cause this world was a great exposure for the associate teams.

Posted by silvo on (March 15, 2011, 10:49 GMT)

Hey, they choked against England, why not choke here as well?

Posted by Cricinfouser on (March 15, 2011, 1:29 GMT)

What is Ireland like at club level? Living in the NL, I can't ignore that club cricket in The NL appears miles ahead of Ireland's.

Posted by Herman on (March 14, 2011, 20:48 GMT)

I hope Ireland plays well against the Proteas, but also believe they will lose. That said, I cannot understand the ICC's black or white thinking about the Associates. Clearly Ireland and Bangladesh belongs in the World Cup, just as clearly as the fact that Kenya and Canada do not. I believe the Associates should be exposed to more cricket on International level, not less. What about having a Qualifying Tournament before the World Cup, pitting the 4 best Associates against the 4 lowest-ranked Test nations? The top 4 in the competition gets to play in the World Cup! That would make it fair to all concerned, and the Associates who get to the World Cup will belong there.

Posted by QGR on (March 14, 2011, 16:06 GMT)

While Ireland has come up with some exciting stuff, they are far from being competitive except against England, that too due to one particular lifetime innings.... which, without being too harsh to Kevin 'o Brian, is unlikely to repeat. So people will keep comparing them against likes of Bangladesh and even boast they are better for those one off excitement, but to be fair on Irish they need to play a lot more against big teams regularly, before they can start winning regularly against major teams. Never the less, good luck to the Irish!

Posted by Cricket Fan on (March 14, 2011, 16:01 GMT)

People want unpredictable matches. So the game SA Vs Ireland should be a unpredictable.

Their Sachin Tendulkar "PAUL STIRLING" Will play tomorrow well.

Don't miss tomorrow's game!!!! Ireland will win.........there is no doubt.............

Posted by Big on (March 14, 2011, 15:45 GMT)

Ireland has a chance of winning a game against SA. SA has relaxed a bit after their win against India which makes the task just a little bit easier for Ireland. Go RSA and hit it while its hot.

Posted by S on (March 14, 2011, 15:01 GMT)

The rumor that says England lost to Bangladesh due to dew cannot be further from truth. England was a team with 3 pacers, and one spinner on the game against BD. Even someone ignorant about cricket should know Dew HELPS pacers, during early morning and definitely during flood lights (poor quality light infact in Chittagong). It was the Dew that made some OK bowling of Ajmal Shehjad into unplayable superb bowling when he got 2 wickets of Bangladesh. The fact that Swann made a big show of him not gripping the ball due to dew eventually became the official excuse of England team's loss. Its not only funny, but actually humiliating for England, a country which sees most Dew and Rain than most other Cricketing countries during their county seasons.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 14, 2011, 14:43 GMT)

hope ireland will make it into the big league within the next couple of world cups

Posted by kanas on (March 14, 2011, 14:30 GMT)

the presence of ireland has been a privilege to the WC.and they hav provided more reasons to watch the sport and lot more to cheer for...It will be very pleasing if they manage to pull another win especialy agnst sa....

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 14, 2011, 14:22 GMT)

go ireland go and create another headach for undeserving bangla boys who won because of dew against england..you are better and consistent team than bangladesh

Posted by puneet on (March 14, 2011, 13:52 GMT)

I am really hoping that the Irish will give us the pleasure of enjoying another upset against South Africa- Then officially this world cup will be most evenly contested every with no clear favourites- Even australia with M.Hussey back looked so scratch against a weak Kenyan Team that if Ireland pulls this one off- We really cannot predict a Word Cup Winner.....!!!

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