Andrew Balbirnie has told his Ireland players that their memorable batting display in the second T20 international against India on Tuesday must not be a one-off.
With 10 more games against New Zealand (world ranked six), South Africa (four) and Afghanistan (10), Ireland have the perfect build-up to the T20 World Cup in October to prove just that. But after hitting 221 – their second highest total – against the number one side in the shortest format anything seems possible.
It was Ireland’s highest total in a T20I batting second and, even more significantly, the second highest ever conceded by India.
“It can’t just be one-off against India we have to make sure that if we are on a different pitch or chasing a lower total we have that mindset to aspire to do great things, said the Ireland captain.
“It’s still a (four runs) loss at the end of the day so it’s a strange feeling. We are gutted we didn’t end up on the right side as we played really well in the second innings but this has been an important night for this team.
“We didn’t want to bat 20 overs and get 170, a decent total. so we can take a lot of confidence from that performance with the bat.
“We don’t have loads of cricketers to pick from. We know what we want to do in 50-over cricket – after our series win over West Indies (in January) we have got to that place but maybe we’re not sure in T20 cricket But the last two games have showcased that we can go up another gear and see where that takes us. It’s exciting
“We have had a couple of conversations this week, mainly among the batting group, how we want to go about things and hopefully we have turned a corner and this will spur us on to great things.”
As Ireland lost the series 2-0, they remain 14th in the rankings table - behind UAE, Zimbabwe and Nepal! – but Balbirnie insists they are gathering a player pool which can close the gap, although that depends on one proviso.
“We need to play more cricket. Harry Tector is going to be a superstar. He is only 22 but he is so mature, he got three 50s in the Caribbean and he is our leading run scorer in this series.
“We have a player pool now we can build a solid white-ball team around and we must make sure we don’t take these performances for granted.”
Osborne Park: Ulster Schools 162 (H Dyer 37, A Ly 32, J Rose 25, M Waite 20 not out; M Tonge 3-29) Southern Schools 27-1. Match drawn. No play Tuesday.
Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup (6.00): CIYMS v North Down
Future Series (10.45am): Emerging Warriors v Lightning Bolts (Newbuildings), Munster Heat v Emerging Knights (North Kildare).