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07 March 201508:02 By Himanish Bhattacharjee

Ireland v Zimbabwe, Preview, Match 30, Hobart

Win takes Ireland up to No. 3 in pool table, while a Zimbabwe victory would add to the mid-table clutter.

Ireland v Zimbabwe, Preview, Match 30, Hobart - Cricket News
In the lead up to the 2015 World Cup, experts struggled to single out one team as the outright favourite to win the title. They even suggested this would be the closest World Cup of all time.

So far, the tournament has panned out pretty much on those lines. India and New Zealand have been the most dominant, while almost every team has rewritten record books, done better – and not so, occasionally – than anticipated.

Ireland, for instance, came into this tournament with the reputation of being a small team that, when at its best, can upset even the best in the world.

Pakistan felt the pinch in 2007, England suffered in 2011, and West Indies, playing its first match of this World Cup, was left shocked by William Porterfield’s men, who chased down a 300-plus total to clinch a fabulous four-wicket victory in Nelson.

Ireland carried that confidence into the next match, against United Arab Emirates, the following week, beating it by two wickets, before finally being brought down to earth by the mighty South Africans, losing by a massive 201-run margin.

On Saturday (March 7), in the 30th match of the tournament, Ireland takes on Zimbabwe – another side that has shown immense determination in its three matches so far.

After opening its World Cup campaign with a 62-run loss against South Africa, Zimbabwe bounced back with a four-wicket win over UAE. But little did Elton Chigumbura’s side know that a rampaging Chris Gayle awaited it on the other side – Gayle smashed the first double ton in World Cup history to power the West Indies to a dominating 372 for 2. Zimbabwe fought hard to reach 289, falling short of the Duckworth-Lewis target by 73 runs.

Against Pakistan, though, the bowlers got their act together to restrict the opposition to 235/7, and with key contributions from Chigumbura, Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams, put up a spirited chase, eventually losing by 20 runs.

But, against Ireland, it goes in without Chigumbura, who tore his thigh muscle while fielding in the match against Pakistan.

Taylor, who will lead the side now, insisted Zimbabwe stood a good chance of emerging victorious against Ireland. “We feel we are 80% there,” he said on Friday. “We think if we can close that gap a little bit more, I think we are heading in the right direction for a good win against Ireland.”

In the six One-Day Internationals played between the two sides, Ireland has won one and lost three, rain washed out one game and the only time the two sides locked horns in a World Cup match, in 2007, it ended in a thrilling tie at Sabina Park in Kingston.

Victory for Ireland will move it ahead of West Indies and Pakistan to third position with six points in Pool B, while Zimbabwe will go up to four points to join the mid-table tussle with a win.

“Everything is in our hands in terms of wins,” said Porterfield, speaking on match eve. “Tomorrow is no different. We've gone into every game looking for those two points, and we're two from three at the moment, and going into tomorrow (we are) looking to make that four from three.”

The Bellerive Oval, the venue for the clash, is set to host its first World Cup match, and given the stakes, being part of the crowd might just be the best way to spend Saturday evening if you are in Hobart.

Teams (from)

William Porterfield (capt), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Andrew McBrine, John Mooney, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson (wk), Craig Young.

Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor (capt, wk), Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Solomon Mire, Tawanda Mupariwa, Tinashe Panyangara, Sikandar Raza, , Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams.

You can follow the build up to the game and the live scoring and match highlights for Ireland v Zimbabwe here in the ICC Match Centre