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Ireland believe in World vision, maintains Delany

 

Final prize: Ireland’s Laura Delany (front right) with the T20 World Cup qualifying trophy and the other seven captains
Final prize: Ireland’s Laura Delany (front right) with the T20 World Cup qualifying trophy and the other seven captains

By Ian Callender

Ireland begin the first of two T20 World Cup qualifying campaigns on Saturday, with the Women playing their opening game in Arbroath, with the prize for the top two in the tournament a trip to Australia for the finals in February.

The men's qualifying tournament takes place in October in the UAE and for the first time the T20 World Cup finals are stand-alone tournaments, with the Men's event, also in Australia, not taking place until October 2020.

While the men are seeded to reach the finals - six of the 14 teams join the 10 highest ranked Full Members - it looks a much more tricky assignment for Ireland Women with only two of the eight teams reaching the finals.

Ireland are ranked 10th in T20 cricket but while Bangladesh are the only team ranked above them in the qualifiers - the top eight are automatic finalists - Thailand have stormed up to 12th after a run of 19 wins in their last 20 T20 matches and have been drawn in Ireland's four-team group in the qualifiers.

That crucial game is next Tuesday, the last of the group after Ireland face 25th ranked Namibia on Saturday and Netherlands, 21st in the rankings, on Sunday. Laura Delany's side is expected to win both of those games and, if they do, the Thailand game is likely to be a free hit as the top two go through to the semi-finals.

The problem is if they lose their final group game, they are likely to face Bangladesh, the probable winners of the other group, in the tougher semi-final.

But Delany, on the eve the tournament, is staying positive.

"We've have a couple of tough games against Thailand but I am hopeful we will put that right next week. We can't wait to get started and, should we qualify, there is nothing more exciting than playing in a World Cup," she said.

All the games at Forfarshire CC, in Dundee, will be live streamed on the ICC website and they include Ireland's second and third games, as well as both semi-finals next Thursday and the final on Saturday week.

All eight teams have a warm-up game against a team from the other group today, and Ireland will meet Papua New Guinea, ranked 15th, in Dundee at 10am.

Meanwhile, it was another blank day at Bready yesterday in the final Interprovincial Championship clash of the season between North West Warriors and Northern Knights.

Overnight rain left the outfield saturated and, while the square was playable, there was no chance of the game getting underway, and now it must be doubtful if a ball will be bowled in the match.

The players have probably lost the will in a six-match series where there has not been a single positive result - and with Northern Knights, the best placed side to catch leaders Leinster Lightning, now needing to bowl out Warriors today and then score 150 runs to join them at the top of the table, even with a full day's play that would appear highly unlikely to happen.

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