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ICC Twenty20: Ireland captain William Porterfield on top of world

By Ian Callender

Published 09/03/2016

Will power: Ireland skipper William Porterfield is confident his team can progress from group
Will power: Ireland skipper William Porterfield is confident his team can progress from group

William Porterfield was, as usual, on the attack in the captain's pre-match Press conference ahead of Ireland's first game in the World Twenty20 against Oman today (2pm GMT, live on Sky Sports 2).

Porterfield claimed that Ireland's batting woes in the shortest format are just a "perception" and that the team are "in a good place" to progress from Group A, this despite passing 150 only once in the last six T20 games when they have batted first.

"I'm not too bothered. I'm happy where we are and looking forward to the tournament starting," was the skipper's brusque response.

It was a typically positive take by a player who has consistently led from the front. His average in those games is 28, comfortably the best, but although his last three innings have been 72, 75 not out and 31, Ireland have won only one of those games.

Andrew Balbirnie, not certain of a place in today's starting line-up, and Gary Wilson are the only other batsmen who have scored meaningful runs in the two warm-up games here in India, against Hong Kong and Zimbabwe who met in yesterday's tournament opener in Nagpur.

That game went to form with Zimbabwe following up their win over Ireland with a 14 runs victory against the Hong Kong team who Ireland hammered by 10 wickets.

But Ireland will need their other batsmen to step up to the mark today, probably none more so than Paul Stirling, Porterfield's big-hitting opening partner who has now gone seven T20 innings without a 50, but as coach John Bracewell was keen to point out, his average is one half century every six innings so he is overdue. It would be the perfect time today.

Porterfield also admitted the return of Boyd Rankin to the bowling ranks is a huge boost.

"It's great to have Boyd back, he slotted back in in January (against Papua New Guinea) in Australia and it's as if he hasn't been away. Regardless of surface, he has enough attributes to cause trouble," added his Warwickshire county team-mate.

Porterfield was impressed by what he saw from Oman at the Asia Cup, and their warm-up win over Scotland.

He said: "We've seen quite a lot of footage of them, how they go about their cricket. We're going to have to be right on top of it, and put them under pressure.

"They scored quite a few runs in the Asia Cup - I think the only blip they had was against the UAE - and they beat Scotland in their only warm-up," he added.

Bubbling under the surface in the build-up to this game was the word 'Mankad' - which means a batsman run out by a bowler in his delivery stride for being out of crease.

In Aamir Kaleem, Oman have a slow left arm bowler who actively pursues that type of dismissal and was backed by his captain on the eve of the opening match.

"It is within the rules. If a batsman is out of his ground he is cheating so we will try to run him out," insisted Sultan Ahmed.

Bizarrely, he added: "It's within the spirit of the game."

So will Ireland respond in kind?

"It's not for me. We will not be appealing for a Mankad," said Porterfield.

The battle lines have been drawn.

Belfast Telegraph

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