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02 March 201515:56

South Africa v Ireland Preview, Match 24, Canberra

Dale Steyn set to play 100th ODI, with South Africa promising no let-up, no freebies

South Africa v Ireland Preview, Match 24, Canberra - Cricket News

Each of the three previous meetings between Ireland and South Africa has resulted in a South African victory, though only the 2011 World Cup encounter was 50 overs a side.

South Africa has won 32 and lost just 16 of the 50 World Cup matches it has played since 1992. The team may have had its problems in the knockout games, but it’s not one to take eyes off the ball. So, if you’re a non-Test playing nation, South Africa is one of the teams you least want to bump into.

This isn’t a great time to play de Villiers’s side either. Defeat to India in Melbourne was a rude wake-up call, and the West Indies bore the full brunt of the backlash in Sydney. On Monday (March 2), the eve of the game against Ireland, Farhaan Behardien, the South African allrounder, spoke of how it would be “foolish not to have a look at the other pool”. The implication was clear, that South Africa would prefer to finish in the top two and avoid a quarterfinal against Australia in Adelaide or against New Zealand in Wellington.

Each of the three previous meetings between Ireland and South Africa has resulted in a South African victory, though only the 2011 World Cup encounter was 50 overs a side. Both in Guyana (2007 World Cup) and in Belfast later that year, rain ensured that Messrs Duckworth and Lewis would come into play.

Said Behardien, who is expected to play on Tuesday with JP Duminy still not having recovered from a side strain, of the Irish: “They've played two and won two, and I don't think we would have taken anybody lightly in this particular tournament. Every game is a big game, so we've prepared really well. We've done some good analysis on them, and we'll be giving it our all tomorrow.”

Had their quarterfinal place been secure, there might have been the temptation to give Aaron Phangiso a game, but that experiment is now likely to be kept back for the match against the UAE. Vernon Philander is also on the recovery list, which means that Kyle Abbott will get another opportunity to build on the impressive spell he bowled against the West Indies.

The Irish, though, are anything but intimidated. The cricket team’s win over West Indies gave it confidence and the rugby union side – 6 Nations winners in 2014 – once again sits atop the log. These are good time to follow Irish sport.

When William Porterfield, Ireland’s captain, was asked about how the mindset had changed in the years since the side’s World Cup debut in 2007, he said: I think if you get any Irish sports team, they've got that belief and they're going to scrap right to the last minute,” he said. “I don't think we're any different, and I think the skill factor has improved a lot in the last eight years as well. But I think the mindset has always been that if we're going out there 11 on 11, we're going out there to win.”

Both sides will avoid the temptation to tinker with the playing XI, especially given that the winner of this game will have one foot in the last eight. Porterfield was respectful of AB de Villiers’s incredible innings the other night, but in Kevin O’Brien, the Irish have someone who has scored an even faster World Cup hundred.

What they don’t have is genuine pace, of the kind that Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Abbott are capable of. Look, it's not something you can just find, or just have if you don't have that,” said Porterfield. “You've just got to be really smart with what you do have. Obviously, you've got to find your length pretty early. It's the same for any bowlers, whether you bowl 90 miles an hour or 75.

“We've just got to be smart with how we set fields and how we go about things from there, really. I think we can utilise the fact that some of our bowlers don't have the pace that some batters generally like to face. So, that can be an advantage as much as a hindrance.”

For Steyn, who made his ODI debut nearly a decade ago, pace certainly hasn’t been a hindrance. At the Manuka Oval on Tuesday, he will play his 100thODI, and hope to add to a tally of 154 wickets at 25.58.

“I’ve faced him a few times in the domestic scene,” said Behardien. “It's not fun facing Dale Steyn when he's at full tilt. The fire and energy that he brings to the bowling unit is awesome. We’ll be looking to him to start the innings off well, whether it be first change or opening the bowling. 100 caps is a wonderful achievement, something I aspire to, something most cricketers aspire to. That's a massively proud moment. We'll try and celebrate his 100th game with a win.”

Teams (likely):

South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quentin de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis, Rilee Rossouw, AB de Villiers (capt), David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Dale Steyn, Kyle Abbott, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.

Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, Niall O’Brien, Andy Balbirnie, Gary Wilson (wk), Kevin O’Brien, John Mooney, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Max Sorensen.

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