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Andrew Balbirnie senses rising levels of belief in Ireland camp


Andrew Balbirnie

Andrew Balbirnie

©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Andrew Balbirnie

Andrew Balbirnie has said Ireland will take confidence from their batting display on Sunday into the second World Cup Super League game against South Africa in Malahide today.

Rain allowed only 40 overs on Sunday but half-centuries from the Ireland captain and his predecessor, William Porterfield, proved that Ireland have nothing to fear from the Proteas attack.

Kagiso Rabada was the fastest and classiest act on view but left arm slow bowlers Keshav Maharaj and Trabraiz Shamsi took only one wicket between them in 17 overs and that was a reverse sweep by Porterfield which came off his glove to slip.

For Porterfield, who made 63, it was a welcome return to form in the international arena after going 11 innings without reaching 50 and justified the selectors’ decision to include him in the squad, despite two failures against the Netherlands last month.

“It was brilliant to see William in such good nick, him and Paul (Stirling) battled through the early stages against a really good new ball attack,” said Balbirnie.

“Having lost the toss, in quite dark conditions and with a bit of rain around, for the two openers to see off that opening spell set us up really nicely so we’ll take confidence from that.

“Our batting wasn’t great in the Netherlands so to get some time in the middle for a few of us and play quite nicely was great and hopefully we can build on that in the rest of the series.”

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Balbirnie, who pipped Porterfield to top scorer by two runs, has now played against South Africa twice and passed 50 on both occasions his maiden one-day international half-century came in Canberra at the 2015 World Cup — and Porterfield also has the monkey off his back in games against the Proteas after scoring just 48 runs in his previous five innings with a top score of 17.

Now Ireland must hope that Stirling can get a big score at Malahide. He faced 40 balls for just 13 on Sunday and, while it saw off the new ball, it left Ireland’s best batsman averaging just 18 from 11 innings at the ground.

There is no reason to believe either team will have to — or want to — make any changes for today’s game with Mark Adair, perhaps surprisingly preferred to Graeme McCarter, set to retain his place after coming in for Barry McCarthy.

Adair came in at No 5, when the game was reduced to 43 overs, and hit two of his eight balls for six, while Harry Tector also cleared the boundary with some comfort although was dismissed for another frustrating score in the 20s.

The South Africa batsmen and Ireland bowlers are still waiting to perform so, if conditions are the same — although no rain is forecast today — presumably that means no place for the tourists’ Test captain Quinton de Kock, who was an absentee in Sunday’s line-up.

The abandoned game wasn’t entirely worthless, indeed it gave Ireland another five points in the WCSL table and for the first time in 22 months, spectators had the chance to watch a home international in person.

Ireland were forced into one change of the eve of the first game with Neil Rock, the reserve wicket-keeper, testing positive for Covid and is now in isolation. He was replaced by another uncapped player, North West Warriors keeper and former Rush team-mate Stephen Doheny, who has joined Merrion this year.

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