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09 March 201508:24

Ireland continue to amaze in #cwc15 journey

The equation for Ireland is simple. Beat Pakistan in Adelaide on Sunday and qualify for the quarterfinals.

Ireland continue to amaze in #cwc15 journey - Cricket News
Ireland produced the highest one-day international score in its history in Saturday’s thriller against Zimbabwe, thanks to a partnership between one of its most senior batsmen and one of its newest faces.

While the skills of Ireland’s most experienced players were crucial in securing the win, it was the partnership between Ed Joyce, playing in his third World Cup, and Andrew Balbirnie playing his first, which set up the total of 331-8.

Joyce scored a superb 112 from 103 balls to help Ireland reach 331-8, while Balbirnie came agonisingly close to a maiden ODI ton before being run out for 98.

The ever-reliable Joyce enjoyed a fair bit of luck in his innings, dropped twice with another chance falling just short of the fielder, but was crucial in setting up the innings for Ireland with his player-of-the-match knock.

It was the sort of performance Ireland fans have come to expect from Joyce, one of only two batsmen along with current England captain and former Ireland player Eoin Morgan to score ODI tons for two different countries.

The 36-year-old was not part of the Ireland team which drew with Zimbabwe during the 2007 tournament - he was playing for England at the time – but since returning to the Ireland ODI side in2011 he has asserted himself as a key member of the batting line-up.
At the other end of the experience scale, Balbirnie was playing his 15th one-day international in Hobart. He made his ODI debut in 2010, when he played four matches, but did not return to theside until September 2014.

Before the Hobart match, he had an ODI high-score of 58, scored in the previous game against South Africa.
Prior to that, his best knock was 38, although he scored a ton against New Zealand A late last year; an innings that helped secure his place in Ireland’s World Cup squad.

Joyce was full of praise for his 24-year-old batting partner after the match.

“He’s been brilliant the last six months as he’s come into the team. I was just saying in the interview after the game that I actually hadn’t seen him really bat before this tournament,” Joyce said.

“He got a brilliant hundred against New Zealand there in Dubai against nearly a full strength New Zealand attack, and he was great today.

“He’s come into the team and done brilliantly, you’re right, he took the pressure off me today, hit his first ball for four and just rotated his strike really well, and that gave me the ability to sort of do the same thing and the confidence to do that, as well.”
Skipper William Porterfield echoed those comments.

“The way Balbo has been playing, as Joyce said, the last six months, you wouldn’t think he hasn’t played many games for us,” Porterfield said.

“You’d think he was one of the senior players, how he’s come in and played with that freedom, so that’s great to see.

“Hopefully he continues that on and it just breeds confidence with the rest of the line-up, really.”

When it comes to last-gasp thrillers in World Cups, Ireland can be relied upon to produce them.

Ireland and Zimbabwe played out a thrilling tie during the 2007 tournament and it looked as though the same result could be on the cards in Hobart when Zimbabwe needed seven runs from the final over with two wickets in hand.

It took the experienced heads of Alex Cusack and Porterfield to seal thenerve-racking win for Ireland.
First, Cusack’s excellent bowling removed Regis Chakabva, and when Tawanda Mupariwa took a big swing two balls later, the safe hands of Porterfield took a brilliant running catch to secure the five run-victory.

Ireland have now won three of their four Pool B matches but it looks as though they may need at least one more point to guarantee their spot in the quarter finals.

With two crunch matches remaining for Ireland as it looks to make the knock-out stages – a clash with India in Hamilton tomorrow before a possible showdown with Pakistan in Adelaide on Sunday –one thing is certain, more thrilling cricket will be in store.