ICC World Cup: Ireland vs West Indies - Preview
Traditional giant-killers Ireland and under-pressure West Indies possess all the ingredients for a high-scoring clash in their opening World Cup match in Nelson on Monday.
Nelson: Traditional giant-killers Ireland and under-pressure West Indies possess all the ingredients for a high-scoring clash in their opening World Cup match in Nelson on Monday.
Both sides feature quality batsmen but relatively inexperienced bowling line-ups for a match they have each targeted as ripe for getting immediate points on the board.
Ireland are no strangers to knocking over teams from cricket`s elite top eight. At the 2011 World Cup they pulled off an historic win over England and four years before that they stunned Pakistan.
In the lead up to this tournament they beat ninth-placed Bangladesh who sit just one spot behind the West Indies in the International Cricket Council`s one-day international rankings.
New ball bowlers John Mooney and Max Sorensen snared three wickets each and Andy Balbirnie chimed in with an unbeaten 63 in the four-wicket win.
The West Indies meanwhile suffered a morale damaging nine-wicket loss to England last week when they were all out for 122 in 29.3 overs, and just managed to beat Scotland with three balls to spare.
The West Indies, winners of the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979, have a reputation for being able to play sublime cricket.
However, their glory days were some years ago and in recent times the quality performances have been few and far between.
They have only won two of their past 10 ODI series, beating Ireland in a one-off match and sweeping a three-match contest against Bangladesh
In Chris Gayle, playing in his fourth World Cup, they have a batsman who can turn a game in an over and along with Marlon Samuels, and Darren Sammy don`t lack for muscle nor depth in the batting department.
But there is a lack of experience among their bowlers not helped by the absence of spinner Sunil Narine
Led by recently appointed skipper, the 23-year-old Jason Holder, the West Indies` last full series was a 4-1 loss to South Africa during which Proteas` captain AB de Villiers exposed the bowling deficiencies with a world-record century off 31 balls.
Holder became the youngest-ever West Indies captain when he took over from Dwayne Bravo who along with Kieron Pollard was dropped after the players` strike during their India tour last year.
"Not having them would be a huge loss to any side. But it`s beyond our control and we have to accept it and move on," Holder said, putting an optimistic spin on the Caribbean side`s chances.
"We`ve been inconsistent and not played to the best of our abilities but we have some world-beaters in our team. It`s all about putting it all together."
"Obviously, the bigger picture is for the team to do well in this World Cup and starting the World Cup well and carrying the momentum through."
Ireland will be banking on Kevin O`Brien to anchor their innings, recalling his World Cup record century off 50 deliveries in their shock win over England four years ago.
His brother Niall O`Brien, along with William Porterfield and Ed Joyce add batting depth, but there is a question mark over their bowling although Craig Young offers promise after his five for 46 on debut against Scotland five months ago.
Former England international and now Scotland coach Paul Collingwood believes the benefits Ireland have from several players performing in English county cricket will make them tough to beat.
"They`re a well-drilled unit, and a lot of their players have county experience, so you know they are going to cause teams problems," he said.