Lara wary of inspired Ireland

irelandIreland have created enough of an impression already with a win and tie here in this World Cup and that should make today’s final Group D fixture against West Indies at Sabina Park all the more interesting, with both teams qualifying for the Super Eights.

And yesterday, following his team’s rain-shortened practice session at Kensington Park, Brian Lara, the West Indies captain, said of the game, “This is what I consider, and I’m impressing the team to consider this the start of the second round.”

A win for either team today will give them far more than a confidence-booster going into next week’s round of games where West Indies will face defending champions Australia in the first match at the brand-new Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Tuesday.

“The points that you get along with the team that goes through with you, those points accompany you,” Lara said. “The two points are of utmost importance.”

To get them and please what is expected to be another large and vocal crowd at Sabina Park, the Windies will have to play a focused game. Their two wins so far against Pakistan and Zimbabwe were attained with varying degrees of efficiency. Bennett King, the West Indies coach, was moved to describe the six-wicket win over Zimbabwe as “scrappy”.

Ireland, led by Trent Johnston, have played determined enough cricket so far to punish any further scrappiness by their opponents today and Lara acknowledged their performance. “They showed that they have the mettle,” he said. “They showed that they have the fight in them. And a cricket game is who plays best on the day and that’s what Ireland have done so far.”

Both Lara and Johnston are also mindful that an Ireland win against West Indies will not be unprecedented. On West Indies’ last tour to England in 2004, the two teams shared a one-day series in Belfast. Ireland won the second of the two in impressive style, chasing down the 292 for 7 to win by four wickets. Opener Jeremy Bray, who scored a century against Zimbabwe last week, made 71 that day and wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien, who struck 72 in the Pakistan upset, an unbeaten 58. Dwayne Bravo made an unbeaten 100 for West Indies. It is that kind of effort that Lara will want from the men in the top order as they try to build momentum and confidence for the Australia clash.

“In this particular tournament, our top four batsmen have to understand that their job is to carry through,” Lara said. “That hasn’t happened totally yet. We don’t have any century-makers in the tournament. But I do expect one of those guys to try to bat out.”

The pitches on which games in this group have been played have not necessarily favoured the batsmen, with Wednesday’s match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe being the exception. The bowlers have been especially effective in the first hour of every game, so the team winning the toss may field first again. The patchy weather in Kingston may also provide an added incentive to do so. Afternoon showers have become standard this week and yesterday’s was heavier than in previous days.

Lara hinted that with the top five batsmen in the Ireland line-up all being left-handers, consideration could be given to left-arm seamer Ian Bradshaw who has bowled well in the past to left-handers.

Personnel changes aside, the home team will know that it is a concentrated effort principally that will get them past an Ireland side that gives very little away in the field and who always supplement their bowling and batting limitations with a large dose of commitment.

Source:Cricket Worldcup

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