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Irishmen a beacon of hope

Ireland have shown that having a ‘never-say-die’ attitude can produce spectacular results. Richard Hadlee writes. They are saying
Hindustan Times | By Richard Hadlee
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2011 01:52 PM IST

Ireland have shown that having a ‘never-say-die’ attitude can produce spectacular results. Their win over England will give other associate teams a much-needed boost and create more self-belief that they too can cause an upset over a major playing nation.

Ireland thoroughly deserved the unexpected win, mainly through the heroic efforts of Kevin O'Brien. It was power-hitting at its best and the enormity of the innings has dented England's chances of qualifying for the quarterfinals. Group B has been thrown wide open.

Six months ago, the Black Caps would have targeted Kenya, Canada and Zimbabwe as easy wins that would almost guarantee them a place in the quarterfinals.

Over the last few months, the confidence and form of the Black Caps have taken a hit —only three wins in 17 matches. Zimbabwe now pose a threat to them — they are an improving team who look fearless and will be keen to prove a point.

The contest between the two teams may depend on how well the Black Caps handle Zimbabwe's successful three-spinner attack. I have been impressed with the left-arm orthodox spin of Ray Price.

The Black Caps should win comfortably but there is an air of vulnerability and nervousness about our team.

Australia, Pakistan and South Africa have been playing well and look impressive. India should have beaten England and the same could be said that England had their chance to beat India in what was the game of the tournament . Both teams were guilty of losing too many wickets in the final overs.

There have been outstanding individual performances. I have admired the centuries by Sehwag, Strauss, Tendulkar, Jayawardene, de Villiers and Kohli. All have have played cricket shots and taken few risks. For me, Kevin O'Brien has played the innings of the tournament.

The spin bowlers will prosper in sub-continent conditions, especially those who have good ball control and variation. Shahid Afridi is likely to be one of the leading wicket-takers. He has the skill to baffle any batsman - flight, leg-spin, wrong' un and the quicker ball.

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