Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Ireland cricket tickets like gold dust

Kevin O'Brien celebrates scoring a century during the ICC Cricket World Cup match against England
Kevin O'Brien celebrates scoring a century during the ICC Cricket World Cup match against England

The full house signs are up outside the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore with Indians suddenly becoming “big Ireland fans” and looking for tickets in the team hotel.

Roy Torrens, the Ireland manager, who gets the team’s quota of complimentary tickets, says that he has never before known a demand like that for tomorrow’s match against India.

And after Ireland’s stunning defeat of England on Wednesday, interest in the match has increased 10-fold with the home fans, who had been expecting an easy win, suddenly not so sure.

Everybody has their opinion on the match and former India captain Suarav Ganguly put in his 10 rupees worth, with a warning for the red-hot favourites.

“India are the better side when it comes to the two, but they must be ready and up for the challenge that Ireland will provide them with,” says Ganguly.

“Ireland has some outstanding players, chasing down England’s target with ease and Kevin O’Brien giving an outstanding performance so India will have to be up and ready for it.

“India will have the chance to review their bowling attack as to whether they go with three fast bowlers or continue with two spinners and two seamers, which I don’t think is the way forward.

“They need three fast bowlers and then have someone like Yusuf Pathan bowling his 10 overs.”

And it is the India bowling that Ireland must target if they are to be competitive in a match which, before the tournament, looked to a one-sided contest.

But, after THAT run chase (327) on Wednesday, in the same arena as tomorrow’s clash, it will be a confident Ireland team that India is facing.

And no-one is more confident in the Irish side than John Mooney.

The Dubliner, who hit the winning runs against England, predicted a semi-final place for Ireland yesterday, but knows victory tomorrow would be a huge bonus.

“India are an unbelievable side, with class all the way through and they are going to be extremely difficult to beat,” he says.

“We can’t afford those little mishaps we had in the field against England when we missed a couple of chances and missed out on creating a couple of others.

“To beat India we will have to put in the absolute perfect performance. We will need the guys to contribute massively up front, batting and bowling, but we know, on the day, we can beat anyone.”

And, despite facing the best batting line-up at the World Cup, Mooney is backing the bowlers to keep Ireland in the game.

“Although the two games here

so far have seen more than 1,300 runs, I don’t agree it’s a bowlers’ graveyard. If you bowl in the right areas you will get something out of it.

“The spinners may not play as big a role as on other grounds in this World Cup but look at Paul Stirling’s figures on Wednesday (1-45 in 10 overs). If you bowl well and put in a good spell your figures won’t be too bad,” he says.

Mooney can speak with experience after bowling in such good areas that he took four wickets in his last four overs as England were restricted to 53 from the last eight overs but the North County

all-rounder admits he can’t predict a winning first innings total on this ground.

“I don’t know if any total is safe. I think England probably missed a few chances and 320 might have been enough if they had taken them but they didn’t and we chased nearly 330,” says Mooney.

The 29-year-old that the squad still call ‘John Boy’ is now one of the first names on the team-sheet but it hasn’t always been so.

Indeed it took him eight years to win his first 38 caps and he played in only three of the 10 World Cup qualifying games in 2009. But since then he hasn’t looked back.

Mooney played in all but four of the remaining games that year and was rewarded with a Cricket Ireland contract at the start of last year.

He admits it has made such a difference.

“I’ve made a massive improvement since I’ve gone professional. Probably 100 per cent,” he reckons.

“It’s an awful lot easier going to the gym in the morning and then hitting cricket balls in the afternoon than it was when I was putting cables in and out of houses for the day and then training in the evening.

“Now it’s a game against India in Bangalore. It doesn’t get much better.”

Boyd Rankin could be the bowler to miss out tomorrow to allow for the return of Andre Botha who missed the England game through injury.

It would be suicidal for Ireland to weaken their batting line-up and if Kevin O’Brien is given the new ball, Ireland’s No 11, who has yet to find his best form with the ball on this trip, could lose out.

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