Ireland's latest batting hero believes the team will learn from their mistakes and can still qualify for next Saturday’s Triangular Series final in Kenya.
Kevin O’Brien is the in-form batsman going into tomorrow’s clash with Zimbabwe at the Nairobi Gymkhana ground, after his whirlwind 83 against the hosts on Saturday gave Ireland their first points in the one-day series.
The table, however, was thrown wide open yesterday when Kenya (285-9) bounced back with a sensational bonus point victory against Zimbabwe (190 all out) to leave all three teams with one win. Each have two games to play before the top two go through to the final.
It wasn’t so much Ireland’s defeat against Zimbabwe on Friday — their first in 15 matches — but rather the size of it that had Ireland players scurrying to a team meeting to analyse what went wrong.
“We will look at the Zim batters and bowlers (on video) and plan for Tuesday. They are a strong unit, very athletic, very quick between the wickets and in the field.
“But we did well yesterday (against Kenya) and we will try and maintain that momentum,” said O’Brien, who top scored against the Zimbabweans with 38.
Indeed, against Kenya in Nairobi he is averaging 198 from three innings and he can’t wait for Wednesday’s next rematch.
“I’m in a good bit of form and hopefully it will continue,” added the 24-year-old Dubliner who was given the perfect platform to launch his late charge.
Batting first, after winning the toss, captain William Porterfield and Niall O’Brien not only spent valuable time in the middle but added 55 — only the fourth half century partnership for the first wicket in 33 one-day internationals — and with Gary Wilson hitting the ball well for his 21, O’Brien was able to come to the middle at 110 for four in the 27th over.
The next 20 overs were mayhem as Ireland finished on 285 for six, with Andrew White scoring 40 of the fifth wicket stand of 82 and Alex Cusack finishing 36 not out from 30 balls.
The match tomorrow is a special day for Andre Botha who will become the eighth Ireland player to win 100 caps.
Only Stephen Warke, Ivan Anderson, Alan Lewis, McCallan and Angus Dunlop have scored more than his 3,074 runs and his 136 wickets have come at just over 22 runs each.
Adding his congratulations to the South African-born North County captain, Kevin O’Brien said: “His record speaks for itself in Leinster and international cricket. His economy rate is unbelievable in one-day cricket and he gives us that attacking edge at No.4 with the bat, never afraid to take on the bowlers.”
An Ireland win and another big Botha performance would seal the day.