Their ability to compete with and challenge top teams apart, Ireland will bank on another factor ahead of a crucial clash against West Indies in Mohali on Friday. One bound to bring back sweet memories for the Irish and bitter ones for their opponents - history. What was expected to be a routine hammering for the minnows in 1969 turned out to be a shocking win as Ireland shot out the travelling West Indians for 25. Thirty-five years later, in another tour game, one that featured five West Indies players and four Irishmen who are part of the current squads, Ireland pulled off an upset again, chasing down 293 against Brian Lara's side.
With 13 professionals in their 15-man squad and a stunning win over England, things have looked up for Ireland this World Cup; a side determined for an encore. West Indies' demolition of a Bangladesh side that was expected to challenge them at home, preceded by a dominating performance against Netherlands, has helped them put behind a dispiriting loss to South Africa. Can their present do the same to some unsavoury recollections with the Irish?
In a keenly-contested Group where the fight for a berth in the quarter-finals is of greater intensity than the other, Friday's fixture will have a significant bearing on who goes through to the knockouts from this half. A win for West Indies will be a consolidation - a preparation for bigger tests that await them against India and England. A win for Ireland will put them in an excellent position to realise their pre-tournament objective of making it to the next stage, with a game against Netherlands, whom they'll expect to beat, in hand.
(completed matches, most recent first) West Indies: WWLLL Ireland: LWLWL
Watch out for...
Ed Joyce: His return to Ireland ahead of the World Cup was a major boost, but the impact is yet to be felt. Forcing the pace has been a problem, two starts have been squandered and there's been one out-and-out failure when batting first. A player reputed for his solidity in the top and middle orders, Joyce is relied on to drop anchor. For that, he needs to spend long enough at the crease.
Kemar Roach: He's been West Indies' most promising pace prospect in years, and weaker teams that have come his way this tournament have been comfortably brushed aside. Ireland may be weaker on paper but their batting line-up is infused with plenty of grit and spunk, and is likely to offer more resistance against his fiery pace and accuracy. But on a track expected to favour seamers more than some others have this tournament, that ability to resist will be tested.
Pitch and conditions
"Being a non-India match, some grass has been left on the pitch, giving it a greenish tinge," Daljit Singh, the curator at the PCA Stadium, has said. "The first hour will help fast bowlers, but the batsmen can prosper with time as South Africa showed (scoring 330 against Netherlands) in the previous match." It was cloudy in Mohali even in the afternoon on Thursday, and if Friday's no different, fast bowlers will be kept interested for much longer than the first hour.
West Indies went in with two spinners in their previous game against Bangladesh. The seemingly favourable conditions for seamers in Mohali may just tempt them to replace a spinner with a seamer. Ravi Rampaul may get a look-in.
West Indies (possible): 1 Devon Smith, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Devon Thomas (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Sulieman Benn, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Kemar Roach.
Trent Johnston was the best of Ireland's bowlers against India but picked up an injury after five overs and picking up two wickets. It will be a major blow for Ireland if he misses out on Friday, as it'll deprive them an experienced player with all-round abilities. In the event of his absence, Nigel Jones, a medium-pacer and a lower-middle order batsman, could be picked.
Ireland (possible): 1 William Porterfield, 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Ed Joyce, 4 Niall O'Brien (wk), 5 Andrew White, 6 Kevin O'Brien, 7 Alex Cusack, 8 John Mooney, 9 Nigel Jones/Trent Johnston, 10 George Dockrell, 11 Boyd Rankin.
Stats and trivia
Those two surprise wins in tour games aside, Ireland have faced West Indies thrice in ODIs and lost twice, their latest defeat as recent as April 2010. One game as washed out.
Left-arm spinners Sulieman Benn and George Dockrell have both picked up 25 wickets in ODIs, though the Irishman has done it in fewer games - 19 compared to 22 - at a better average and economy rate. Their opponents for the most part, though, have differed considerably in strength.
"We have a lot of respect for them. They are a team that is improving constantly which shows their cricket is moving forward. We are definitely not taking them lightly. We have seen what they are capable of doing." Darren Sammy says the right things ahead of a crucial clash.