Ireland have heart, but need to upgrade skills

Posted by On 8:01 PM

Ireland have heart, but need to upgrade skills

8:40 PM GMT

  • Nagraj Gollapudi in Malahide

The result did not come as a surprise. Ireland were never meant to upset India, not at least the way they played on Wednesday.

On match eve, Ireland captain Gary Wilson said they should play with freedom and then match India toe-for-toe. Sure, a few of them did, but Wilson's men walked off with more questions than answers.

Facing India's spinners was always going to be Ireland's real challenge. Mentally they had readied themselves, but the skills didn't back it, once Yuzvendra Chahal started to find his rhythm in the second half of his spell.

Ireland's modus operandi to tackling the spin threat was to step out and swing the bats hard or sweep. A couple of batsmen, including Wilson, got stumped; even Simi Singh, born and bred on Indian pitches, was befuddled by a wrong 'un from Kuldeep Yadav. He can pose a challenge to many good batsmen, Indians included. So it was no surprise that Ireland couldn't read his hands, the dip, spin and wrong 'uns.

Off his very first ball, Wilson attempted to reverse sweep Kuldeep, and survived an lbw appeal. Only a ball before had he seen Simi get a leading edge to cover after failing to read a wrong 'un. Next ball, Wilson went for the conventional sweep and missed. This was the plan Ireland adopted to negate Rashid Khan during the World Cup Qualifiers in March. Wilson once again went for the sweep off his third ball and missed. Was he being brave or foolish? Neither. He was simply clueless.

This state of helplessness played itself even when Ireland were bowling. Bowlers - both fast and slow - rely on variations to create doubts in batsmen who are always in attack mode. Conventional yorkers, wide-ball yorkers, knuckle balls, slow ball bouncers and cutters are the mandatory weaponry for modern T20 bowlers. Ireland's fast bow lers bowled just five yorkers during India's innings. Absence of any wrist spinner helped Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, who fell 12 runs short of breaking the all-time record for the highest partnership in all T20Is.

Ireland's biggest challenge is well-known: the rainy weather that confronts the country virtually throughout the year. Ireland's inaugural Test against Pakistan in Malahide in May was the first big match at the ground this year. Another big handicap, local cricketing minds point out, is the lack of quality infrastructure around the country. Age-group cricket is mostly played on matting wickets, which rules out developing any good spinners or playing good spin.

The lack of quality Twenty20 cricket has not helped either. Although they played a T20 tri-series earlier this month in Netherlands, they were playing this format for the first time in 15 months. Ireland have won just one of their last nine T20Is. It is a hard grind. Yet Wilson is not losing heart

We are obviously disappointed that we lost the game," he said. "We can look forward into Friday because I do think we had enough positives out there to show that we can play against teams like these. We obviously been beaten by 70-odd runs, a big margin in Twenty20 cricket. But if we can negate their spin in Kuldeep and Chahal, that would stand us in good stead."

Kuldeep said it was easy to play on the Ireland batsmen's helplessness against spin, but he could understand their challenge. "They played better against the fast bowlers but struggled against spinners," he observed. "They did use their feet, did not have much footwork. We vary the pace, bowl slow, and (I can understand) they possibly are not used to such bowling, but the more they play they will improve."

In the next five years Ireland will play about 65 T20Is. With the pathway for the smaller countries to the ODI World Cup narrowed down, the only oppo rtunity for Ireland to perform in global competitions would be at the World T20.

There is no doubt Ireland have the heart. The guts. But they need the skills in a format that is every-changing and confounding even the best.

Source: Google News Ireland | Netizen 24 Ireland

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