Batsmen from India and Ireland who can save the match for their team on Tuesday
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India's winning run in the 2015 World Cup continued on Friday when they overcame the West Indies by four wickets at the WACA in Perth. With that result, they recorded their fourth consecutive victory and also became the first team from their group to book a place in the quarterfinals of the competition.
The Men in Blue next face Ireland, who, have also played some spirited cricket in the tournament so far. The Irish have chased successfully in two out of their four matches, and they eliminated Zimbabwe from the tournament on Saturday with a close win.
There is no doubt that the batsmen have been ruling the roost in the ongoing edition of the World Cup. In that context, here's a look at 6 batsmen who could play a vital role for their side in tomorrow's game at Hamilton.
1. Shikhar Dhawan
One of the key reasons for India winning the crunch encounters versus Pakistan and South Africa, Shikhar Dhawan has left the disappointment of the Tests as well the tri-series behind. He has, like the rest of the unit, looked a refreshed cricketer in the tournament so far. The left-hander has been India's highest run-getter in the competition, having scored 233 runs in 4 matches at an average of 58.25. The onus will once again be on him to give the team a good start on Tuesday.
2. Paul Stirling
A key man in Ireland's top-order, Paul Stirling will have the responsibility on his shoulders to put the impressive Indian bowling outfit under pressure early on. The right-hander scored a match-winning 92 during his side's opening World Cup game against West Indies, and while he didn't get going in the subsequent games, the Indians would be wary of taking him lightly.
3. Virat Kohli
Prior to the start of the tournament, if there was one Indian player who carried the burden of expectations from the entire nation, it was Virat Kohli. The 26-year-old, who played the ideal support foil to Dhawan in the matches against Pakistan and South Africa, has notched up 219 runs in 4 matches at an average of 73, with a century in his side's game against Pakistan to his credit. As always, Kohli will look to provide backbone to the Indian innings, and it goes without saying that his would be the most prized wicket for the Irish.
4. Ed Joyce
Probably Ireland's most consistent batsman in the tournament so far, Ed Joyce has been the pivot around which the Irish batting has revolved. The left-hander is tied with Dhawan for the number of runs made in the mega event so far, and with Niall O'Brien not being in the best of form in the last few games, Joyce will have to play a big hand if his side are to give India a run for their money on Tuesday.
5. Ajinkya Rahane
While the likes of Dhawan, Kohli and Rohit Sharma have settled positions in the batting order, it seems Ajinkya Rahane has been assigned the role of a floater and hence will need to keep his pads on throughout the innings. The 26-year-old might have made just 93 runs in 4 matches so far, but his critical 79 off 60 balls against South Africa provided the impetus that the team required and eventually helped them post what proved to be a match-winning total.
6. Kevin O'Brien
Niall's brother Kevin produced one of the most entertaining innings of the previous World Cup, when he scored the fastest World Cup ton against England at Bangalore. Although he hasn't been able to produce a repeat of that so far in the tournament, MS Dhoni's men wouldn't want to let him stay in the middle for too long. He can do considerable damage with the willow in hand, and would be crucial to his side’s fortunes.