Jittery Australia face Irish test

Among the upcoming cricketing nations in the world, Ireland have been easily the most exciting team, pulling off a handful of upsets on big stages.

Though Ireland’s most impressive performances have come in the 50-over World Cup, Australia wouldn’t be taking them lightly when the teams meet in the first match of the day at the R Premadasa Stadium here on Wednesday.

Australia coach Mickey Arthur admitted on Tuesday that his team would be wary of
Ireland who have wins over Pakistan (in the 2007 World Cup) and England (in the 2011 World Cup), the second of those coming with the tiny nation chasing down England’s 300-plus total in Bangalore.

Ireland’s only major win in the World T20 has come against Bangladesh in the 2009 edition in England but they would be keen to better that record. The West Indies are the other side in Group B.

Australia, not unfamiliar to defeats at the hands of minnows, came here on the back of a T20 series-loss against Pakistan and suffered a nine-run loss at the hands of England in Monday’s warm-up tie, the same day when Ireland scored a five-run win over Bangladesh.  Aussie pacemen were wayward and going into their opening match they don’t have left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty who has left for Australia for the birth of his first child.

“We have got as good a chance as anyone else,” said Ireland captain William Porterfield about their big match. “We are up against a team that has been in a bit of transition themselves but they are a pretty good team. We are not taking them lightly.

Australia have got a lot of game-changers in this format of the game. They have got a lot of experience but the way we have been playing and the way we have prepared for the tournament, we are confident in what we can do. We just have to be united and look after our own game,” he explained. Australia’s T20 form has hit such a low that Ireland were ranked ahead of them for a brief period during the series against Pakistan.

“It doesn’t really concern me,” said Porterfield about the rankings. “They (Australia) play a lot of cricket against a lot of the top sides, that’s where we want to be. We want to be playing the same amount of cricket against top sides. They lost a few games and as I said, over the last couple of years there have been a few changes within their side but they can’t be taken lightly.”

Admitting that Australia have been a bit inconsistent in the T20 format, vice-captain Shane Watson said that they had to be on top of their game. “Not too many guys are talking about it but deep inside everyone knows that they are a highly dangerous side.”


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