Ireland hope to make "big statement"
Ireland have earned such a reputation over the years that whenever they play now, especially in a big tournament or against a Full Member, they are expected to be making statements with their performances about themselves, about Associate cricket and about the apparently narrowing gap between them and the lower-ranked Full Members.
Should they be able to make it to the main round of the World T20, their captain William Porterfield thinks they will be making a "big" statement, especially given the shake-up that the ICC, and the world cricket order, are undergoing. Porterfield wants Ireland to not only qualify for the Super 10, but move on from there by causing the odd upset.
At the same time, he also wants his side to not trip over lofty goals such as making statements, and focus on the job immediately at hand, which is to beat Full Member Zimbabwe.
"There has been a lot of talk in the ICC and world cricket about restructuring. Anytime we have got a World Cup, we have to perform," Porterfield said. "It is not just about winning one or two games, it is about doing more than that. The last few World Cups we have been to, we have beaten sides but not been as consistent as we would like. Tomorrow is another great opportunity for us, to try and get a win and set ourselves up for the next game and then we will be in a good position to move forward.
"The intention is not just to qualify but to go on and beat teams in the Super 10. It will mean a lot for Irish cricket. With restructuring and everything going on, it will be a big statement for us to make but we cannot look too farther than tomorrow's game.
"I might sound clichéd, but you got to take each game as it comes. First one is Zimbabwe, that is the first hurdle, the first priority, we have to go out there and win that game. And then we move forward to UAE and then to Holland. That is the simplest way of looking at it. We go out and take out tomorrow's game first, and then we regroup, reassess and see where we are at for the UAE game."
Considering Ireland's latter two opponents, it can be argued that the fate of the group will hinge on the outcome of their first match against Zimbabwe. But Porterfield was wary of the fallout of such an approach. "If you think it will all come down to one match, you are underestimating other teams in the group. If you are doing that you are putting yourself on the back foot really. It is an important game, every game is. If you win this one, you take momentum into the next one. If you put it down as one game, you could come up short."
Ireland beat Nepal in their first warm-up match but went down to Bangladesh by 44 runs in the second. Porterfield said their mood was upbeat despite that loss, saying the side had been putting in consistent displays of late. "We are feeling good, we are confident. We lost the warm-up game against Bangladesh but apart from that we are going well. We had a tough game against Bangladesh. Maybe we could have bowled more slower balls. But we have been playing good T20 cricket over the last few months. We take confidence from the West Indies series. We are in a good place."
It may appear that a European Associate side would find itself out of place in a city tucked in the north-eastern fringes of the subcontinent, but Porterfield said Ireland were not in unfamiliar territory. "We have been here before, Zimbabwe have been here before. This is my fourth time to Bangladesh. We have been to India and Sri Lanka as well. We are pretty well-travelled and have played a lot in subcontinent conditions."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo