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ICC World Cup 2015: India vs Ireland - Preview

A preview of the World Cup match between India and Ireland.

The Indian cricket team have been unstoppable at the World Cup

Ireland, an evolving team, have started the World Cup campaign with 3 wins out of 5 and are prepared to face the defending champions India at Seddon Park, a well-grassed stadium in Hamilton on Tuesday. They emerged victorious in a close encounter against Zimbabwe on Saturday which was a must win for them. If they want to make it to the quarter-finals, they will have to win at least one match out of their remaining two and improve their net run-rate.

India, on the other hand, are in no mood to stop their winning streak. However, they won't take Ireland lightly as the latter have succeeded in upsetting a Test-playing team in all the World Cups they have played in so far. India’s strategy in this match will be to iron out the small weaknesses which may prove to hurt the team in the knockout stages. India have done exceptionally well in the pool matches so far and will want to enter the quarter-finals defeatless.

If Ireland want to produce another upset, they will have to leave behind the excuses of being an inexperienced and weaker team. On the other hand, India should not let the previous wins get to their head. Both teams will approach the game differently with a common goal of victory.

Qualification Scenarios

India and South Africa have already ensured their place in the quarter-finals. The net run-rate will play a crucial role to decide the remaining two qualifying teams from pool B. Pakistan’s win over South Africa has made it more difficult for Ireland.

Ireland can qualify for the quarter-finals, even if they lose to India, with two possible scenarios:

  1. They beat Pakistan.
  2. They lose against Pakistan, but NRR is well ahead of West Indies.

Pool B

Team Mat Won  Lost Pts NRR
Ind 4 4 0 8 +2.246
SA 5 3 2 6 +1.462
Pak 5 3 2 6 -0.194
Ire 4 3 1 6 -0.820
WI 5 2 3 4 -0.511
Zim 5 1 4 2 -0.595
UAE 4 0 4 0 -1.691

So, the match against India becomes very important for them in terms of net run-rate. If they can win against India, it will be like the icing on the cake.

Pitch and conditions

Ground: Seddon Park, Hamilton

Average scores recorded: 1st innings - 237, 2nd innings - 208

Matches won batting first: 9

Matches won bowling first: 14

Interesting fact: Stuart Binny debuted in ODIs at this venue.

It’s evident that fielding first has served teams well at this ground. Fast bowlers will enjoy the seam movement in the first hour of the match and it is likely to become a good batting track later in the day as the hot sun will negate the grass on the pitch. Unlike other venues, captains may opt to bowl first to make use of the early assistance on offer.

India have won only 2 matches on this ground, despite playing 8 since 1981 while Ireland are yet to play a match here.

Last Encounter: The sides last met during the 2011 World Cup which India won by 5 wickets. Ireland set a target of 206 on the back of William Porterfield’s half-century, but in the end, India rode on Yuvraj Singh’s innings to reach the target in 46 overs.

Form Guide

The Indian team’s performances to start the 2015 World Cup have been phenomenal with 4 successive wins. The people who hesitated to count India as one of the top contenders have started to trust the cricketing abilities of the Indian players. From a big name like South Africa to a newcomer like UAE, a win against each team counts and it has changed the confidence of the Indian dressing room.

However, West Indies exposed some of India’s weaknesses in the Perth match. The top and middle order collapsed, but India survived the scare of a first defeat in this World Cup thanks to MS Dhoni’s unbeaten innings. The fielding too looked out of the shape as they dropped 4 catches.

Rohit Sharma continued his bad patch while the other batsmen looked jittery to the bounce and pace of the WACA pitch. On the contrary, the bowling effort seemed pretty decent with Mohammed Shami and Ravichandran Ashwin picking up wickets at regular intervals.  

Ireland, on the other hand, clinched a cliffhanger against Zimbabwe to stay in contention for a place in the quarter-finals. Being the most impressive of the four associate sides in the tournament, the Irish team were a bit low after the 201-run defeat against South Africa, but the win against Zimbabwe came as a boost to their confidence.

Key players

India will have a number of players to call on, but the consistently performing pair of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane will be the key to pile up the runs on the board. On the bowling front, Shami can give the Irish batsmen a lot of problems with his accurate line and length to restrict them to a low score.

Ireland will rely on Kevin O’Brien and Ed Joyce if they want to upset India. Although there are very few options in the Irish bowling attack, John Mooney can get the new ball to bounce and swing to trouble the Indian batting.

Team news   

There are not many worries in the Indian batting line-up barring Rohit Sharma who hasn't been able to find form during the World Cup so far. Another concern is the underperforming Ravindra Jadeja.

“He (Jadeja) needs to improve and needs to step up really. We have a lot of faith in him but at the end of the day you can’t really play with hope,” Dhoni said after the match against the West Indies. India are expected to keep the winning combination for the Ireland match as replacements may obstruct the momentum of the in-form players.

Probable India XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, M Shami.

Ireland will be happy that Ed Joyce got back into form with a superb knock against Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the Irish bowlers have been quite expensive and have conceded 280+ scores in all four matches. Alex Cusack’s incredible death bowling will be a sigh of relief for the Irish captain.

Probable Ireland XI: William Porterfield (c), Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, Niall O'Brien, Andrew Balbirnie, Gary Wilson (wk), Kevin O'Brien, John Mooney, Alex Cusack, Andy McBrine, George Dockrell  

Prediction

Based on recent results, India go into this match as huge favourites. Ireland have a chance only if a player like Kevin O’Brien pulls off a miraculous knock like he did against England in the 2011 edition.

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