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Ireland hope to pass lesser test

The big boys have left town and the stage is set for a dogfight when Ireland take on The Netherlands at the Eden Gardens on Friday. Nikhilesh Bhattacharya reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 17, 2011 23:45 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya

The big boys have left town and the stage is set for a dogfight when Ireland take on The Netherlands at the Eden Gardens on Friday.

It is an inconsequential match because neither team can qualify for the quarterfinals. However, do not expect either team to give the other an inch.

"They've got the wood on us in the last few matches," Dutch captain Peter Borren said on Thursday. Ireland have played three one-day internationals against the Dutch in 2011 and won all of them.

Since both teams know the strengths and weaknesses of each other, Borren said Friday should see "a real dogfight on the big stage".

Ireland favourites
Ireland captain William Porterfield wants his side to win their last group match and end the tournament on a high. And he does not believe this will be Ireland's last match in the 50-over World Cup for years to come, even it the International Cricket Council (ICC) reduces the number of participating teams to 10 from 14 at the next edition in 2015.

"We are confident we can be among the top-10 teams and qualify for the World Cup provided there is a qualification tournament," said Porterfield.

Ireland are the only Associate nation to have beaten a Test-playing country in this World Cup, with a shock win over England, and their confidence is clearly running high. Their West Indian coach Phil Simmons said the only disappointment was the failure to close out a couple of matches.

"We got into winning positions in a couple of other matches - against Bangladesh and even against the West Indies we were in with a chance — but could not get the job done," said Simmons before stressing the need for Ireland to be tested against Test-playing nations more often.

When, and if at all, that will happen is not clear. However, the Irish players are looking forward to taking on some of the big boys this summer. "I think Sri Lanka are going to play us in a one-day International. There's possibility of another big team playing us after that and then England in August," middle-order batsman Gary Wilson told HT.

However, before they start dreaming of killing giants, a midget waits for them at Eden Gardens.