Belfast Telegraph

Cricket World Cup: Ireland plan to finish with a bang

By Ian Callender

The Ireland squad spent a day at the races yesterday, at the invitation of the Royal Calcutta Turf Club, the perfect antidote after their World Cup campaign was cut off before it could reach its prime.

Defeat to South Africa, their fourth in five matches in the tournament, ended any hopes of qualification for the quarter-finals but there will be no chance of the players taking their foot off the pedal when they play their final match tomorrow — the incentive for victory against the Netherlands in Eden Gardens (4am GMT start) could hardly be bigger.

Speaking for the team yesterday, Kevin O’Brien said: “We know it’s a massive game to really show the ICC we are the best Associate and that means putting in a big performance, like South Africa put in last night.

“We aim to win convincingly, bowl them out for a low total and really put our foot down and say we are No 1. The batters let ourselves down against South Africa which was disappointing. We have been batting pretty consistently for long periods and even the games we have lost out here we have put ourselves in a strong position to win them, but yesterday wasn’t good enough and we have to put it right on Friday.”

For O’Brien it is the personal challenge of following up his unforgettable match-winning innings against England when he scored the fastest hundred in World Cup history, off just 50 balls. It is an innings he can live off for years to come and there were incredible scenes yesterday at a slum on the outskirts of this vast, densely populated city.

On a visit with the Goal charity to the municipal dump in Howrah (population 598), O’Brien was immediately recognised by the mainly illiterate community.

“It’s amazing and it touched me that so many knew me in such a rural area,” he said.

Back in the luxury of their five-star hotel in Kolkata, O’Brien talked about tomorrow’s game.

“It’s the first time we have been favourites in the tournament,” he added. “Holland are a good side, (Ryan) ten Doeschate, (Tom) Cooper and (Alex) Kervezee are three very good batters. We obviously know them very well and no-one in our team will be taking them for granted.”

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