Associates can't be taken lightly

Irelands upset of Pakistan at 07 World Cup bears testimony

Associates can't be taken lightly

Ireland reached the Super Eight stage at the 2007 World Cup after tying with Zimbabwe and beating Pakistan to knock them out of the competition. In 2003, Kenya reached the semifinals after defeating Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe on their way to the last four.

Of the three teams, Ireland have the best chance of reaching the Super Eight stage, thanks to a kind draw. Few expect the Irish to beat India, but Bangladesh can be beaten, according to Ireland batsman Kevin O'Brien.

"It’s Bangladesh's best chance to win a game in the group and get through to the Super 8s, and it's our best chance as well," O'Brien said. "We'll go out there and do what we did, and hopefully we can get a few more games out of it.

“Bangladesh and India are in our group and they bring such great crowds and such a noise. We have to live for those two games because you might never play in front of 28,000 again."

The perennial problem for all associate nations is being unable to field their best players. With no opportunities to play professional cricket domestically, Ireland’s best players, like Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan, gravitate toward the English county circuit, and Morgan has opted to play for England this time round.

Yet, the associate nations also benefit from a trickle of players discarded by the Test-playing nations.

Scotland are captained by former England international Gavin Hamilton, while the Netherlands’ squad includes Victoria fast bowler Dirk Nannes, who was overlooked by Australia despite being regularly preferred to Glenn McGrath by the Delhi Daredevils during the IPL. Nannes, who has also played for English county side Middlesex, has 53 wickets in T20 cricket at 17.58.

It will take a major upset for either the Netherlands or Scotland to progress. The Dutch, who open the tournament against England at Lord’s on Friday, will have to beat either the hosts or Pakistan to reach the Super 8s. Scotland have a similarly daunting in Group D, which has New Zealand and South Africa.

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