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Ireland v South Africa, World Cup 2011, Group B, Kolkata

South Africa hope to avoid Irish surprise

The Preview by Abhishek Purohit

March 14, 2011

Comments: 35 | Text size: A | A

Match Facts

March 15, Kolkata
Start time 2.30 pm (0900 GMT)

Dale Steyn had a close appeal for lbw against Virender Sehwag, India v South Africa, Group B, World Cup, Nagpur, March 12, 2011
Dale Steyn will be a tough proposition on a surface expected to help the fast bowlers © AFP
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The Big Picture

As the tournament heads to its business end, it is fair to say that things have gone to plan. This was supposed to be the tougher of the two groups, and has proved to be so. South Africa generally play to potential in the league stages of the World Cup, as they have done this time as well. They have mostly been in control, and the almost-mandatory "wobble", to use a substitute for that word, has been put out of the way against England. Ireland were expected to punch way above their weight as the leading Associate side, and have done exactly that.

Having shocked England, and given a fright to West Indies and India, they would be cursing themselves for the collapse while chasing a gettable target against Bangladesh. But when they walk out on the hallowed Eden Gardens turf tomorrow, Ireland will do so knowing this will be their toughest test of the tournament. The other big sides in the group have the tendency to leave an opening here and there for teams to try and claw back, but when South Africa close the door on their opponents, it shuts tight with cold finality.

South Africa will be pleased that a cog of their wheel that had come apart against England, the lower middle-order, stood up well under pressure against India. They wouldn't want it to be on trial against Ireland though, and would want to seal the quarter-final berth with a clinical win.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)

Ireland LLWLW
South Africa WLWWW

Pitch and conditions

The World Cup finally shows up at Eden Gardens 16 days after it was originally supposed to. As the first of its three games in six days kicks off, India's most famous ground will be on trial after the tardiness that led to the shifting of the India-England tie to Bangalore. But a ground that has hosted a World Cup final and a semi-final deserved much better than three games involving Associates.

The pitch had a tinge of green on the eve of the game, and the curator has promised good bounce and carry. William Porterfield expects it to be "pretty quick". There has apparently not been much dew around in the last few days, but a surprise appearance is not discounted. Especially so, since it is the onset of summer, and while the days have started to get warm, nights can still be cool.

Watch out for...

Dale Steyn brought South Africa back against a rampant India in a controlled display of fast bowling, mixing slower ones with reverse-swinging yorkers. Graeme Smith looks to his premier fast bowler whenever he wants a crucial breakthrough, and more often than not, Steyn delivers. On a pitch that is expected to aid the seamers, getting past Steyn without much damage would be the first of Ireland's headaches.

Kevin O' Brien showed what he is capable of against England. He has had a couple of quiet games after that record-breaking innings. He will enjoy batting as well as bowling on this surface. Without his spark in the middle order, Ireland lack the big finish when they bat.

Team news

Imran Tahir is still ruled out as part of his rehabilitation from a a fractured thumb, and AB de Villiers is also doubtful, having had a scan on his left thigh which revealed a muscle sprain. Colin Ingram could get a game if de Villiers misses out. Will South Africa go in with a third seamer in Lonwabo Tsotsobe?

South Africa (probable): 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers / Colin Ingram, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Faf du Plessis, 7 Morne van Wyk (wk), 8 Johan Botha / Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 9 Robin Peterson, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Morne Morkel

Trent Johnston missed out against West Indies with a knee injury he sustained during the India game but is mostly expected to play, having trained today. Andre Botha is on the doubtful list, down with a stomach bug.

Ireland (possible): 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Ed Joyce, 4 Niall O'Brien (wk), 5 Gary Wilson, 6 Kevin O'Brien, 7 Alex Cusack, 8 John Mooney, 9 Trent Johnston, 10 George Dockrell, 11 Boyd Rankin


  • South Africa have won both their previous ODIs against Ireland, including one during the Super Eights stage of the 2007 World Cup

  • The last World Cup match at Eden Gardens was India's ill-fated semi-final against Sri Lanka

  • Six of the 11 decided day-night games at Eden Gardens have been won by the side batting first


"He can come off on any given day. 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."
William Porterfield isn't too bothered by Kevin O'Brien's lean returns after that century against England

"We're not planning on tickling anything. We are aware of what Ireland can do and we've prepared for that. We're impressed with everything they have done in this tournament so far."
Corrie van Zyl, when asked if South Africa would "tickle" the line-up

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 35 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2011, 9:11 GMT)

Come on Ireland give us a good match!!

Posted by John on (March 15, 2011, 8:41 GMT)

Ireland's big win may not get them a world cup. It got them something much bigger. They have the respect of the big teams now! Keep it up guys!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2011, 8:38 GMT)

The Irish have proved 2 b a bit of a thorn in this group. They've proved that they are no push-overs. Having said that however, it is not expected that they'll pose a huge threat on South Africa just because they beat a fairly poor English side that only managed to continue their hoodoo over the proteas. A so-called 'big team' wont concede 292 runs to Holland, no disrespect to them. The Proteas' greatet asset coming to this w.c is their bowling attack. For once in over a decade or so, we see a bowling-orientated proteas side, a strategy that seems to be working thus far. The best way beating 'small' teams is to make sure they cant score, because they usually dont bowl too well. This game myt end prematurely with a huge win for the Proteas, which is a bit of a down-side for some of us who are working cos we wont be able to finish it off. The proteas won't need luck, so i'll just say may the best team win today. One thing's for sure though, i won't be drinking any Irish Whiskey 2day ;-)

Posted by Cricinfouser on (March 15, 2011, 8:29 GMT)

guys i have a doubt is india qualified for the quarters

Posted by charles on (March 15, 2011, 8:27 GMT)

@surlycynic ... im not sure but id say sachin isnt mention because India arent playing this match. Just a guess though?

Posted by Rajesh on (March 15, 2011, 8:08 GMT)

@SurlyCynic - Are u mad or what?why r u dragging sachin in this preview..? u r no1 racist(SA) in the world..! u guys are frustrated everytime u see sachin that u dont produce sachin kind of batsman in ur cricket history..! so u guys are crying ..! lol.. come out of this small circle and enjoy his play u mad

Posted by Jeff on (March 15, 2011, 7:59 GMT)

@xscorpi - Smith probably blows the best from the SA lineup. Very unreliable. Is that who you meant?

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2011, 7:58 GMT)

@SurlyCynic, absolutely. I came here to read about him. I am very disappointed :P

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2011, 7:42 GMT)

See the circle in Group A.

India beat Bangladesh Bangladesh beat Ireland Ireland beat England England beat South Africa and South Africa beat India..

What goes around comes around.. :)

Posted by Neil on (March 15, 2011, 7:41 GMT)

@SurlyCynic -ROFL! The comment of the decade, my friend! Well played!

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