Saturday, July 13, 2024

T20 World Cup: Ireland’s hopes now hanging by a thread

Must read

‘Scattered thunderstorms with a 78% chance of rain’ is the forecast of the weather boffins in Broward County, south-east Florida. Should they be right, Ireland’s stuttering T20 World Cup campaign will be put to bed today when they are due to play the United States in a crunch Group A game in Lauderhill.

Ireland’s media manager Craig Easdown told Extra.ie last night: ‘The squad is inspecting the conditions at the ground today to assess the impact of the heavy rain experienced over the last 48 hours.’

Irish hopes of progress are hanging by a string anyway since the hosts managed to avoid a thumping in their game against India on Wednesday, taking their opponents into the 19th over and avoiding a big drop in net run-rate.

Ireland Cricket
2024 ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup Group Stage, Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York USA 7/6/2024 Canada vs Ireland Ireland’s Lorcan Tucker dejected. Pic: INPHO

As the table stands, the US run-rate is +0.127, Ireland’s +1.712, a huge but not impossible gap to close of around 50 runs. Paul Stirling’s side have to win both games this weekend – Pakistan lie in wait on Sunday – and enormously improve their NRR over the US. If they bat first they need to beat the host nation by 25 runs or more, or chase down their target within 15 or so overs, they will creep ahead. If not, they can still make up the deficit by beating Pakistan. Simples?

The ‘tropical moisture’ has surged up from Central America and the Caribbean, bringing up to four inches of rain and localised flooding. It has forced Ireland to train indoors this week, and there are real fears that the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground will have been too saturated to see any play at all. With the USA poised to progress to the Super Eights the game is abandoned, one would not be surprised if the ground staff call in sick this morning.

Not that any such manipulation is unimaginable in this event, given the Australians’ open admission that they might ease up on Scotland to eliminate tournament rivals England.

2024 ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup Group Stage, Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York USA 5/6/2024 India vs Ireland
Ireland’s Mark Adair celebrates the wicket of India’s Virat Kohli. Pic: INPHO
2024 ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup Group Stage, Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York USA 5/6/2024 India vs Ireland
Ireland’s Mark Adair celebrates the wicket of India’s Virat Kohli. Pic: INPHO

But the USA might not need any help from the weather, with their impressive side already likely to present problems to Ireland. Batsmen Aaron Jones and Andries Gous are in the top five run-scorers in the competition, with left-arm seamer Saurabh Netravalkar and slow left-armer Nosthush Kendige among the wickets.

The Lauderhill stadium is no mystery to Steve Taylor, who is the only US player from South Florida, growing up in nearby Fort Lauderdale with his Jamaican parents. Taylor was a youth prodigy, first capped aged 16 back in 2010 and familiar to Ireland since then with scores of 23, 17, 28 and 23. A regular in West Indian franchise events, he has scored six centuries for his country.

Leinster CC’s Gareth Delany was the only Irish player to score more than 14 against India, his innings of 26 off 14 balls including two 6s and two 4s.

Gareth Delany of Ireland during an Ireland men’s T20 squad training session at Castle Avenue Cricket Ground in Dublin. Pic: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Gareth Delany of Ireland during an Ireland men’s T20 squad training session at Castle Avenue Cricket Ground in Dublin. Pic: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Ireland will hope all-rounder Delany gets among the wickets, although spinners have been taking a back seat in the World Cup.

The Munster Reds man said: ‘We’ve seen how things have been more favourable towards the bowling sides so far in this tournament – especially in New York. The biggest takeaway for me is to be keeping it as simple as possible and letting the surif face offer some assistance. It will be interesting to see how the surfaces in Fort Lauderdale play and if spin will have more of an impact than it did in New York.’

Delany was responsible for probably Ireland’s finest moment of an uninspired campaign to date. His caught and bowled dismissal of Dilpreet Bajwa drew much favourable comment.

Gareth Delany of Ireland walks off after being dismissed during the ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup West Indies & USA 2024 match between Canada and Ireland at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium on June 07, 2024 in New York, New York. Pic: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Gareth Delany was the only Irish player to score more than 14 against India. Pic: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

‘To be honest I think I made it look a lot harder than it was,’ he said. ‘For some reason, I didn’t react very quickly to the ball coming back at me. Maybe it looked a bit harder than it actually was, but thankfully it stuck.’

With luck and a fair wind, a few more catches will stick and Ireland will live to fight another day. But that mostly depends on the tropical moisture moving away quickly.

Latest article