Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie has hailed his team’s momentous win over South Africa as a “huge day” in the country’s cricket history.
Balbirnie was at the heart of Ireland’s first-ever ODI victory over South Africa on Tuesday, 13 July scoring a century in a 43-run win.
With the first match of the series washed out, Ireland now have an unassailable 1-0 lead in the campaign and are intent on claiming series honours in the third match on Friday, 16 July.
“We'll enjoy this - it's our first time ever beating them in ODI cricket,” Balbirnie said at the post-match presentation. “It's a huge day for cricket in Ireland.
“We will have a couple of beers and enjoy this because it doesn’t happen every day that you beat a team of this stature and for the first time in our history.”
The victory was Ireland’s first in seven attempts against South Africa in ODI cricket and lifted them to fifth on the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League (CWCSL) standings. A win in Friday’s third match would see them register their first series win over the Proteas and lift them to third on the CWCSL standings.
“You have got to look at Friday where you can potentially win a series. The guys are eager and hungry to win a series,” the Player of the Match said before reflecting on Ireland's series defeat to the Netherlands last month.
“We want to improve as a team. We’ve had a mixed year, we had a really bad series in the Netherlands. We have 15 points out of 30 (CWCSL) and we’re really pushing hard to get maximum points this series.”
Ireland win the 2nd ODI in Malahide 👏— ICC (@ICC) July 13, 2021
Andy Balbirnie earns the player of the match award after his seventh ODI century, setting up the hosts first-ever victory over South Africa.
📸: @cricketireland#IREvSA | https://t.co/tfI7lliJ6g pic.twitter.com/FROUipHwU1
The Ireland captain said taking out the series would be a clear indicator the team is heading in the right direction.
"We've beaten big teams before but we haven't beaten them consistently,” he was quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
“We don't have the players these teams have, we don't have the infrastructure or the exposure. A lot of the South African team have played in the IPL. We don't get that.
"So what we do, when we do play these big teams, we get the most of out of these games and we try to put in our best performance. We are thrilled and beating them once off is great but winning a series at the end of the week will be so important because it shows we're making strides."
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!