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Ireland are in fine fettle despite my first defeat, insists Ford


By Ian Callender

Graham Ford may have lost his unbeaten record as Ireland coach but he insists his side are in a good place going into the two most crucial games they have played in a decade.

Beat Zimbabwe tomorrow in their first Super Six game at the Harare Sports Club and Ireland's World Cup qualification is alive and well - and could be all but sealed on Sunday against Scotland - but lose to the hosts and they will be relying on unlikely results elsewhere to make it to a fourth successive finals.

But despite the loss to tournament favourites West Indies last Saturday - the significance of which actually bypassed the South African - Ford is happy with his squad's form.

"I hadn't actually thought about that (a first defeat in his 13th match in charge), I'm just taking it one game at a time, just wanting the lads to play good cricket," said the coach.

"And that's what I've seen. Players finding good form, improving their cricket, different players putting their hand up and, looking at the bigger picture, that's the most pleasing thing.

"Although we lost to West Indies there was a lot to be positive about. We were well in the game and could easily have won it. The fact we didn't hurts a lot. Selection was a tough call and if we had taken our chances we could have said we got it right, so maybe we didn't, but you could debate that until the cows come home.

"But credit to West Indies, they created a lot of pressure with the ball late in our innings and absorbed pressure when they were batting, they played very well on the day."

And now Ireland are desperate for West Indies to keep winning because, having emerged from the same group as Ireland - with those two extra points for Saturday's victory - they face the same three teams that Ford's side will meet over the next nine days.

But the Ireland coach is refusing to take anything for granted.

"Zimbabwe are tough on their home turf, they've played good cricket of late and Friday will give us a good idea of where we are at," he said.

"Scotland are also playing good cricket, are still unbeaten and have one or two additions from when they played us earlier, but we know we can beat them.

"Afghanistan are the surprise so far having failed to carry any points through, but everyone knows how dangerous they can be so no team can be under-estimated."

While Ireland complete the final training session ahead of their Super Six opener, the action starts today with West Indies facing Afghanistan, while Scotland will end UAE's hopes of qualification if they win their clash in Bulawayo.

Super Six Fixtures: Today: West Indies v Afghanistan, UAE v Scotland

Tomorrow: IRELAND v Zimbabwe

Sunday: IRELAND v Scotland

Monday: West Indies v Zimbabwe

Tuesday: UAE v Afghanistan

Wednesday: West Indians v Scotland

Thursday 22: UAE v Zimbabwe

Friday 23: IRELAND v Afghanistan

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