Ireland looks To Maintain Intensity

Match facts;

March 19, 2014
Start time 1930 local (1330 GMT)

Big Picture;

The Irish seem to instantly ignite emotions in fans wherever they go. In the 2011 World Cup, they had Indians dancing and cheering for them after their historic upset of England in Bangalore. In the 2014 World T20, it took them one game to get thousands shouting "Ireland, Ireland" in Sylhet during their victory over another Full Member, Zimbabwe. They are the bosses of the Associate world, always among the neutral's favourites, the loveable underdogs. Imagine how many more converts they'll make if they get through to the Super 10, which will give them at least four games against the big guns.

For that to happen, they will need to come through UAE and Netherlands, opponents they are expected to beat. How will the tag of favourites sit with them? On paper, the amateurs of UAE should be no match for them. Ireland boast several players who have done years of hard yards on the English domestic circuit. They have one of the most exhilarating limited-overs batsmen in Paul Stirling, they have a classy young spinner in George Dockrell, they have a range of experienced seamers and batsmen led by a man who knows that when he speaks, he often does so on behalf of the lower rung of cricket. William Porterfield is conscious of the importance of his position, and he does not throw words around lightly.

Even Porterfield was moved enough to say "you never lose" when you need seven off two overs, something Ireland almost managed to do in their opener against Zimbabwe. It took a scrambled bye off the last ball to take them home. There should not have been any room for complacency against a Test nation, but it arguably seemed to have crept in towards the finish. Complacency could become an issue against UAE, but now that they have almost stalled at the finish line once, Ireland will be wiser.

UAE went down without much fight to Netherlands, a side they had beaten twice before. Heaven help them if they field and bowl like they did in their opening match. Their performances against Ireland and Zimbabwe will be significant pointers to where they stand at this level. They did show some spunk with the bat, recovering twice after losing quick wickets to Netherlands. Having already played under lights in Sylhet, they won't have to make the adjustments Ireland will need to.


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