England are perennial underachievers when it comes to global tournaments; Ireland, meanwhile, have punched above their weight in their last two appearances at the highest level. If ever a match-up was designed to cause an upset, it was this
Tuesday, May 4, Providence
Start time 1330 (1730 GMT)
The Big Picture
England are perennial underachievers when it comes to global tournaments; Ireland, meanwhile, have punched above their weight in their past two appearances at the highest level. If ever a match-up was designed to cause an upset, it was this. On the evidence of their performances in the past week, however, the luck of the Irish ought really to be coming to an end in Guyana on Tuesday - although if they win the toss and bowl first with rain in the air, Messrs Duckworth and Lewis could yet assist in extending their Caribbean campaign into the second week. After all, they all but unseated England in the rain in Belfast last summer.
It nevertheless seems unlikely. Whereas England cracked the West Indies attack for a hefty 191 for 5 in their Group D encounter on Monday, Ireland's batsmen slunk to 68 all out against the same opponents on the same Providence surface, having been handed a sound beating by Afghanistan in their warm-up contest. And it is no doubt galling for the Gaelicmen that the star performer in England's innings, Eoin Morgan, used to be the pride of their own middle-order.
This is, after all, an elimination bout, and the victor is set to snaffle every crumb of the spoils. Ireland will not take to the field without hope, because their bowlers gave their team a chance on the first day of the tournament by limiting West Indies to a manageable 138 for 9. But for the first time in a long time, England appear to have entered a major event with a team and a mindset capable of taking them places. Even though they could yet be eliminated in double-quick time. Twenty20 is a funny old game.
Form guide (most recent first)
England LLWLW Ireland LLWLL
Watch out for...
All eyes will inevitably be on Eoin Morgan, especially after the gem of an innings he produced in defeat on Monday. After a disappointing showing for Bangalore in the IPL, he's resumed the graceful style of power-hitting that has transformed the fortunes of England's one-day middle-order since his coming of age in the Champions Trophy last September. What would his former countrymen give to have him back in their ranks?
Since the advent of Graeme Swann, England's quest for a matchwinning spinner hasn't been as frantic as it tended to be in the not-so-distant past. But who's to say (other than the man himself, of course) that the young left-armer against whom they'll be pitting their wits on Tuesday, George Dockrell, won't be sporting the three lions within the next decade? He entered the tournament with a burgeoning reputation, and enhanced it with 3 for 16 in four overs against West Indies.
England sprang a surprise in their opening match by opting for Ryan Sidebottom over their attack leader, James Anderson, and he would be the obvious candidate to make way if England did feel the need to tinker with their line-up. More likely, however, is that England treat the situation as they would for a victory, and choose not to meddle with a winning formula.
England (probable) 1 Michael Lumb, 2 Craig Kieswetter, 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Paul Collingwood (capt), 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Luke Wright, 7 Michael Yardy, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 Ryan Sidebottom.
Ireland have batting issues to resolve after their capitulation against West Indies, although their best hope is to bank on their experienced players rediscovering their A-game. It's not often that extras is the top scorer in an international innings.
Ireland (possible) 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Niall O'Brien (wk), 4 Alex Cusack, 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Gary Wilson, 7 John Mooney, 8 Trent Johnston, 9 Andre Botha, 10 Boyd Rankin, 11 George Dockrell.
Pitch and conditions
The Providence pitch will doubtless play into the hands of the slow bowlers once again, although it's hard to describe the conditions as "sluggish" after the sort of the power-hitting that England and Gayle produced on Monday. Of greater concern will be the weather, especially for the team unfortunate enough to lose the toss.
Stats and trivia
Ireland have never yet beaten England in three attempts, all in ODIs, although they got mighty close on the last occasion, in Belfast, when an interception on the boundary's edge by none other than Morgan secured a three-run victory.
"I guess it puts a little added pressure on us, but I think we can take a lot of positives out there. We know what we've got to do, if we win six games we win a World Cup."
Paul Collingwood puts his disappointment to one side and focuses on England's endgame.