Golden opportunity for Ireland
Match factsThursday, June 11
Start time 13.30 local (12.30 GMT)
Big PictureHowever far Ireland progress in this tournament, they have done enough to confirm their standing as comfortably the best Associate. The moment they qualified for the ICC World Twenty20, they had Bangladesh in their sights and duly knocked them aside on Monday with a comprehensive six-wicket win. Subdued celebrations followed, perhaps owing to their increased belief of challenging Test nations, but moreover the realisation that the next hurdle will be far trickier to leap.
That they are facing an injured New Zealand can only help, however. Jesse Ryder has been ruled out with severe pain in his groin, and remains in hospital suffering from "a significant infection", while Ross Taylor's hamstring has forced the selectors to rest him. Daniel Vettori, the captain, continues to recover from a shoulder niggle and may not play, though James Franklin ought to return after his knee injury. This puts tremendous pressure on the support players to perform immediately; if they have even one eye off the ball, they will pay. Ireland may be an Associate, but unlike Scotland they fear no-one.
Ireland, too, have injury concerns. Niall O'Brien damaged his ankle in Ireland's last match, while Trent Johnston has a sore shoulder, forcing both players to be rested for their match against India. Ireland desperately need their best players, including this pair, to be fit and firing if they are to challenge a bruised New Zealand.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
New Zealand LWWWL
They crushed Scotland's plucky little effort and nearly beat South Africa, losing by just one run. Injuries or not, New Zealand can never be written off in one-day cricket and thrive as the underdog.
Three of those wins for Ireland have come against Associates. The 138 they chased against Bangladesh is comfortably their highest score in Twenty20s, a format that Associates rarely play.
Watch out for...Brendon McCullum, who has yet to produce a scintillating knock but threatened against South Africa with an oddly-paced 57 from 54. His chastening tenure captaining Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL might, conversely, inspire him to lead from the front with the bat for his country instead. They need him to.
The O'Brien brothers are a force to be reckoned with. Niall, the hot-headed wicketkeeper, is the more naturally gifted; his deft stumping to dismiss Mahmudullah was opportunistic and classy. But his younger brother, Kevin, hits the ball longer and farther than most in the Ireland team, as his devastating 39 from just 17 balls to be Bangladesh testified. Trent Johnston, 35-years-young, is loving every moment of his cricket in the last few months, too, and performing very well with the ball.
Team newsNew Zealand will miss Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor (hamstring), while Daniel Vettori (shoulder) is still a doubt. The Otago batsman, Aaron Redmond, has been called up as cover, but James Franklin (knee) should return.
New Zealand: (possible) 1 Brendon McCullum (capt), 2 Martin Guptil, 3 Ross Taylor, 4 Neil Broom, 5 Jacob Oram, 6 Scott Styris, 7 Peter McGlashan (wk), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 James Franklin, 10 Ian Butler, 11 Kyle Mills
Niall O'Brien (ankle) and Trent Johnston (shoulder) both missed Ireland's match against India, and Ireland dearly need both if they are to challenge New Zealand.
Ireland: (possible) 1 Jeremy Bray, 2 William Porterfield (capt), 3 Niall O'Brien (wk), 4 Gary Wilson, 5 John Mooney, 6 Kevin O'Brien, 7 Trent Johnston, 8 Alex Cusack, 9 Kyle McCallan, 10 Regan West, 11 Boyd Rankin
Pitch and conditionsTrent Bridge has offered plenty of runs - Sri Lanka smacked 192 for 5 against West Indies - and enough turn to keep the spinners interested. There ought to be some early movement for both sides' seamers on what is expected to be another overcast day.
Stats and Trivia
- Before today's matches, Ireland had hit more sixes (5) than Sri Lanka (4)
- Each team could have a pair of brothers playing: the O'Briens for Ireland and New Zealand's McCullums.
"I was happy enough just to catch it and I thought I might as well take the bails off for good measure."
Niall O'Brien comments after stumping Bangladesh's Mahmudullah
"I'm going get a couple more physios to get round us all."
Brendon McCullum tries to find eleven fit cricketers.
Will Luke is assistant editor of Cricinfo