O’Brien wary of strong Indian line-up

Bangalore: Ireland’s poster-boy Kevin O’Brien, who scored the fastest World Cup hundred off 50 balls, Friday said an upset victory over England had not made his team lose sight of India’s batting and bowling prowess.

“We are well aware of India’s strengths in batting and bowling, with world class openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar and world class bowlers Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh. No rival team can take them for granted,” O’Brien, who turned 27 Friday, told reporters after a gruelling practice session at the National Cricket Academy.

O’Brien, who was declared Man of the Match for his match-winning 113 against England, said the Irish players are sparing no effort in preparing for the big match against India here Sunday to prove their win over England was not a one-off affair.

“Though we came here after losing to Bangladesh narrowly (by 27 runs), our dramatic victory over the English gave us tremendous confidence that we can play against any team, chase over 300-run target and pull off a win,” the Irish all-rounder asserted.

Asked if the team was working on specific strategies to contain India’s top order, O’Brien said though they were practicing to a plan, much would depend on how the game unfolds right from the toss.

“If the pitch behaves the way it did the other day (Wednesday), being hard and flat, which are favourable to batsmen we will certainly take advantage of it and post a big score. We will have to try to build partnerships if we are made to chase. It works both ways,” O’Brien observed.

Praising the salubrious climate of Bangalore and the craze with which the game is followed in the city, the centurion said he was grateful to the fans for their full support to Ireland against England the previous match.

“Though there were only a few thousand fans in the stands when we played England, it was incredible to see them to stand by us till the last and cheer us all the way to an exciting win. We are looking forward to a packed stadium Sunday with a hope the fans will be as supportive of us as for their home team,” O’Brien noted.

The dramatic victory made Ireland President Mary McAleese phone on the team early Thursday and congratulate skipper William Porterfield, and specially, O’Brien for his heroic century.