Resurgent West Indies face Ireland threat

Aware that any slip-up could pose a serious threat to their quarterfinal chances, a resurgent West Indies will take on giant-killers Ireland in an interesting group B match of the cricket World Cup on Friday.

Updated: March 10, 2011 16:25 IST
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Mohali: Aware that any slip-up could pose a serious threat to their quarterfinal chances, a resurgent West Indies will take on giant-killers Ireland in an interesting group B match of the cricket World Cup here on Friday.

With two victories in three matches, the West Indies are standing on the brink of quarterfinals and a win against Ireland at the PCA Stadium on Friday will more or less secure their place in the last-eight stage.

With four points in their kitty, the West Indies are in the third place in Group B behind India and England but ahead of South Africa on net run rate. The top four sides from each group qualify for the quarterfinals.

After the thrashing at the hands of South Africa in their tournament-opener, the Caribbean side made a strong comeback and demolished the Netherlands and co-hosts Bangladesh in their next two outings.

But the West Indians are aware of the challenges posed by the Irishmen and would do well not to take the game lightly as tough matches against India and England await them in the tournament after Friday's day encounter.

"We have played against them quite a lot and know what they are capable of. But we can't take any side for granted in this tournament especially after the way Ireland played against England," senior West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan said ahead of Friday's match.

"Every game is a must win game for us in this tournament. We will just go out there play and enjoy."

The West Indies have a strong batting line-up and will be looking to explosive Chris Gayle for a solid start. Young Darren Bravo showed great potential at the number three position while the middle-order has loads of experience in Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivanarine Chanderpaul. Also, in Keiron Pollard down the order, the West Indies have a batsman who can tear apart any bowling side on his day. However, the West Indies, who have a legacy of producing great fast bowlers, have some concerns on the bowling front. Apart from Kemar Roach, they don't have a quality pacer in their attack.

And captain Darren Sammy would be hoping that Roach, who took 3-19 against Bangladesh and 6-27 against the Netherlands, including a hat-trick, will carry on his good work in the coming matches.

In Suliemen Benn, the West Indies have a cunning left-arm spinner who has invariably bowled well upfront.

Ireland, on the other hand, have successfully carried the flag of the minnows with impressive performances in their last two matches after the close loss to Bangladesh in their opening game.

Ireland notched up the first upset of the tournament when they beat England by three wickets, toppling a score of 327 riding on Kevin O'Brien's brilliance.

The win over England also saw Ireland leapfrog Zimbabwe in the ODI rankings, moving into 10th position.

Even though they lost to India by five wickets, Ireland gave a tough fight to the co-hosts and bowled and fielded superbly while defending a modest total of 207.

Ireland are presently fifth in Group B and if they create another upset on Friday they will strengthen their chances of qualifying for the quarterfinals.

Irish skipper William Porterfield also believes that his side can make it to the quarterfinals and understands the significance of Friday's game.

"We've got three games left and there is no reason why we can't beat any of the three sides. So far we have played some decent cricket and the match against West Indies is a big game for us," Porterfield said.

However, Porterfield is aware of the challenges that await them on Friday.

"They (West Indies) are a strong team. They have got match-winners in their team but we have got our plans," he said.

The one area in which Ireland will hold an edge over the West Indies is fielding. Also the Irish players' experience of playing in competitive county cricket in England has done a world of good for the side in the tournament.

Teams (from):

West Indies: Darren Sammy (capt), Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith, Devon Thomas (wk), Devendra Bishoo, Kirk Edwards.

Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), Andre Botha, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Ed Joyce, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien (wk), Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Albert van der Merwe, Andrew White, Gary Wilson.

Match starts: 0930 hrs (IST).

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