Cricket World Cup: Ireland face stiff test against world champions India

Kevin O'Brien
Ireland's Kevin O'Brien is greeted by a Maori on the team's arrival in New Zealand
Pool B: India v Ireland
Venue: Hamilton Date: Tuesday, 10 March (01:00 GMT)
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Ireland face a tough challenge against defending champions India as they try to seal the point they need to progress to the World Cup quarter-finals.

The Irish will face Pakistan in their final Pool B game on Sunday.

"We have a quicker turnaround for this game than for our previous ones but our goal is still what it always was," said Ireland captain William Porterfield.

"Whether we are in action with the bat or the ball, we have to start the game well in the first 10 overs," he added.

Porterfield's men need to win one from their final two pool games to be sure of making it out of their group for the second time in three World Cups.

They have already beaten two full-member nations, West Indies and Zimbabwe, but a third scalp is likely still required.

India have already qualified for the last-eight and could opt to rest some of their key players at Seddon Park, Hamilton, but Porterfield is not banking on the prospect.

"No, I don't think their guard will ever be down," he said. "Whatever they decide to do is out of our control. Whoever they decide to play, it doesn't really bother me.

"We've just got to keep all the momentum going and keep on improving at the little things we want to and keep taking things forward."

Pool B
TeamPlayedWonLostN/RR/RPoints
QIndia4400+2.258
2South Africa5320+1.466
3Pakistan5320-0.196
4Ireland4310-0.826
5West Indies5230-0.514
6Zimbabwe5140-0.602
7UAE4040-1.690

Ireland's status as a genuine threat to the established nations in world cricket has again been confirmed at this tournament, although it would arguably be their greatest giant-killing should they beat an India side unbeaten at this tournament.

"Every game there's the same amount of points up for grabs, and the India game is no different," argued Porterfield.

"We've got to go into that looking to take two points and follow from there. That is out next challenge and it's one we are looking forward to."

A nail-biting five runs win over Zimbabwe in Hobart on Saturday, thanks to their highest total in a one-day international, was Ireland's third in the competition, yet it may not be enough to make the knockout stage.

Three wins were expected to be enough to clinch a top four place, but unless the United Arab Emirates shock West Indies, the fourth place could be decided on run-rate and thanks to a heavy defeat by South Africa, Ireland's is the worst going into their final two games.

A rained-off game would suffice for Ireland but the forecast for the North Island of New Zealand on Tuesday is for sun and temperatures of 22 degrees while Adelaide, the venue for Ireland's final match, has settled, dry weather for the entire week.

Alex Cusack is certain to retain his place after his heroic 9.3 overs against Zimbabwe which, with two wickets in the last over, returned the best-ever Ireland bowling figures at a World Cup of four for 32, even more remarkable in a team total of 326.

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni can afford the luxury of looking forward to the knockout phases and admits that, despite his team's unbeaten record, they must remain wary.

"What will be important is how good a cricket you play on that particular day, especially going into the knockout stages," he said.