Saturday, June 22, 2024

T20 World Cup: Mark Adair, Paul Stirling and other Irishmen who could pose a threat to India in New York

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Ahead of the second Group A fixture of the 2024 T20 World Cup, we take a look at some of the Irish players who could pose a threat for Rohit Sharma and his team at the Nassau County International Stadium.
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It’s been a few days now since the 2024 T20 World Cup got underway, with the co-hosts USA and West Indies beginning their campaigns with contrasting victories against Canada and Papua New Guinea respectively.

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South Africa defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets after bundling them out for a paltry 77 in the first meeting of the tournament between two Full Members on Monday while Afghanistan handed debutants Uganda a 125-run hiding in the latest fixture that took place later in the day.

India begin their campaign against Ireland on 5 June in New York City, their players getting a few days to recover after a hectic couple of months in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

They enter Wednesday’s clash on the back of a morale-boosting 60-run victory over Bangladesh in their only practice match — which incidentally took place at the same venue where they will be playing their first three group fixtures of the tournament.

Ahead of the second Group A fixture of the 2024 T20 World Cup, we take a look at some of the Irish players who could pose a threat for Rohit Sharma and his team at the Nassau County International Stadium:

Mark Adair

The Nassau County Stadium isn’t exactly the easiest of surfaces to bat on, even if the Indian team managed to score 182 in their practice match against Bangladesh. The surface at the modular stadium offers more support for seamers than it does for spinners, which was evident in the manner in which Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada ran through the Sri Lankan batting lineup on Monday.

Adair has been Ireland’s leading pacer in recent events and thus could pose a threat to the Indian top-order in Wednesday’s clash. The seam-bowling all-rounder had finished as Ireland’s leading wicket-taker in the European T20 World Cup qualifier last year as well as the second-highest wicket-taker overall after finishing level on 12 wickets with Scotland’s Bradley Currie at an average of 8.75 and 5.33 respectively.

Adair had also finished Ireland’s leading wicket-taker in the T20I tri-series in Netherlands last month with seven wickets at an average of 13 and an economy of 7.58. Before that, he had collected five wickets against Pakistan — finishing third among bowlers in that series — at an average of 22.20 an an economy of 9.38 respectively.

Paul Stirling

The 33-year-old batting all-rounder is one of Ireland’s most experienced campaigners as well as their captain, and will be hoping to lead from the front when he walks out to open the innings on Wednesday.

Stirling have nearly 10,000 international runs from more than 300 appearances and will be hoping to channel in that experience when taking on the Jasprit Bumrah-led attack on Wednesday. More recently, Stirling had scored 122 runs in the European qualifier at an average and strike rate of 40.66 and 145.23 respectively.

Andy Balbirnie and Paul Stirling are two of Ireland’s most experienced players and will be hoping to lead from the front against India in New York on Wednesday. AP

Andy Balbirnie

Stirling will be walking out to open the Irish innings with Andy Balbirnie, another individual who could pose a threat to the Indian bowlers on Wednesday. Former captain Balbirnie is also among the most experienced players in the Irish squad with more than a hundred appearances each in ODIs and T20Is besides eight Test appearances, scoring more than 5,000 runs in international white-ball cricket.

What also makes Balbirnie a threat for Rohit Sharma and Co on Wednesday is the fact that he has the most runs among Irish batters against India, having collected 156 runs in six appearances that includes two half-centuries, at a strike rate of 138.05.

More recently, Balbirnie had finished Ireland’s leading wicket-taker against a bowling attack of Pakistan’s quality, scoring 128 runs in three appearances at an average and strike rate of 42.66 and 134.73 respectively.

Joshua Little

The experience of sharing the dressing room with some of the Indian players who will be seen in action in the T20 World Cup does help for members of the opposition and this is where Joshua Little might have the edge over his teammates.

Joshua Little has spent two seasons in the Gujarat Titans dressing room in the IPL, playing under the leadership of Hardik Pandya and Shubman Gill in 2023 and 2024 respectively. AP

Little has spent two seasons with Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League (IPL) now and had played under Hardik Pandya’s leadership in the 2023 season, in which his performances had helped the Ahmedabad-based franchise reach the final and finish runners-up. In his only appearance for the Titans in IPL 2024, in which they were led by Shubman Gill, the left-arm pacer collected four wickets for 45 runs. More recently, Little had also collected a couple of wickets in Ireland’s warm-up match against Sri Lanka.

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