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Cricket World Cup: Ireland are close to knockout spot

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World dream: Ireland captain William Porterfield is only focused on tonight’s game with India despite his side closing in on the quarter-finals

World dream: Ireland captain William Porterfield is only focused on tonight’s game with India despite his side closing in on the quarter-finals

?INPHO/PHOTOSPORT/Tertius Picka

World dream: Ireland captain William Porterfield is only focused on tonight’s game with India despite his side closing in on the quarter-finals

Ireland are one point away from a certain place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup but no-one is expecting them to gain it in Hamilton tonight (1am UK time) when they take on the world champions, India.

A nail-biting five runs win over Zimbabwe in Hobart on Saturday - their fifth over a Full Member in the World Cup, thanks to their highest total in a one-day international - was Ireland's third in the competition, yet it may still not be enough to reach the knock-out stage.

Six points (three wins) were expected to clinch a top four place - it will in Group A - but unless UAE shock West Indies in the penultimate Group B game next Sunday, the fourth place could be decided on run-rate and Ireland's is the worst going into their final two games.

A rained off game would suffice for Ireland but the forecast for the North Island of New Zealand tomorrow is for sun and temperatures of 22 degrees while Adelaide, the venue for Ireland's final match against Pakistan, has settled, dry weather for the entire week.

Captain William Porterfield's attitude is that they have won three of their first four games, so despite the challenge of two of the Asian power-houses, they will go out and win a fourth.

"We have just tried to break it down and take each game as it comes, and whatever we need coming down to the last game, we need, but we are only looking forward to the India game now," said Porterfield.

"We've managed to deal with the West Indies game and the UAE game (their first two wins) and not look past them, and there's so many things that can happen in all our games and so many things have happened. We've got to freshen up and be ready to go in Hamilton."

And although India have already qualified for the quarter-finals, Porterfield is not expecting the champions to ease up.

"They're a squad of 15, so whatever they decide to do, they're not going to look to lose any momentum," he said.

"Whoever they decide to play, it doesn't really bother me.

"We've just got to keep all the momentum going and keep on improving at the little things we want to and keep taking things forward."

Tomorrow is basically a 'free game' for Ireland considering that no-one outside the squad is expecting them to get anything out of the tie.

But don't expect any radical changes to the Ireland team. Alex Cusack is certain to retain his place after his heroic 9.3 overs against Zimbabwe which, with two wickets in the last over, returned the best ever Ireland bowling figures at a World Cup of four for 32, even more remarkable in a team total of 326.

Ed Joyce scored Ireland's fifth World Cup century on Saturday to set up only their second World Cup win batting first, although 331 for eight probably should have been even better as only 11 runs came off the last two overs and Andrew Balbirnie scored only six singles from his last nine deliveries before running himself out in the last over after a wonderful 97.

Hobart: Ireland 331-8 (50 overs, E Joyce 112, A Balbirnie 97, W Porterfield 29, G Wilson 25, K O'Brien 24; T Chatara 3-61, S Williams 3-72) Zimbabwe 326 (49.3 overs, B Taylor 121, S Williams 96; A Cusack 4-32, J Mooney 2-58, K O'Brien 2-90). Ireland won by 5 runs.

Belfast Telegraph