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Balbirnie backs Ireland's batters to adjust with World Cup dream on knife edge

The captain admitted conditions were a challenge for Ireland as they fell for 101

Andy Balbirnie plays a square drive, Ireland vs Sri Lanka, T20 World Cup, Abu Dhabi, October 20, 2021

Andy Balbirnie is confident his team can adapt to conditions  •  AFP/Getty Images

Ireland have to win their match against Namibia on Friday, to qualify for the Super 12s. But if they do, their batters will need to quickly adapt to facing the kind of skiddy pace they struggled with against Sri Lanka.
On Wednesday, Ireland were visibly troubled by Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara, both of whom frequently clocked speeds in excess of 145kph. On the UAE's pitches, which don't offer a lot of bounce to begin with, and seem to skid on when the ball gets a little bit of evening dew on it, those two bowlers were especially tough to face, Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie said.
Ireland lost three wickets and scored only 38 runs across Chameera and Kumara's combined seven overs.
"We don't get wickets like this and we don't get pace like that too often like that at home," Balbirnie said. "But the more we go up the levels - and if we go well on Friday, looking ahead to next week - it's only going to get quicker. They were quite skiddy, the bowlers. They bowled good short balls. But that's what you expect at the international level and you've got to find ways to cope."
If Ireland win against Namibia on Friday, they will likely be in Group 2, where their batters will face the attacks of India, Pakistan, New Zealand, and Afghanistan. Although Ireland are not accustomed to playing bowling at high speeds on the lower UAE decks, that is not a challenge they will balk at.
"Look, we're perfectly capable of playing that kind of bowling. I'm not saying we're not," Balbirnie said. "We played some of the quickest bowlers in the summer back home - against South Africa - and we did pretty well. It's slightly different out here. It's skiddier than what we're used to. Particularly under lights it skids on.
"But I love that challenge, and a lot of our batters do, to get out there and having the ball zinging past your head - that's the battle we want to be in. We're not going to be able to change that over the course of the week if we do qualify. But we've just got to back our skills and take it head on and not back away from it. That's a mental thing, rather than a technical thing. But we don't want to get too ahead of ourselves. We've got a big game on Friday."
Sri Lanka are through to the Super 12s following their 70-run win. Balbirnie was Ireland's top-scorer with 41 off 39, as they attempted a target of 172.
"Our batting just didn't get going at all," he said. "We couldn't get any momentum. I scored forty-odd, and it took me quite a few balls, and I certainly found it tricky enough. Sri Lanka are a good team. They deserve to go through. We'll be eyeing up the second spot."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf