Bangladesh Vs Ireland
Staring time: 2:00 pm IST
Bangladesh and Ireland are percievably the strongest teams among the minnows in this World Cup. So their match up on Friday at Mirpur will be all the more exciting. Although the record books show that the Bangladeshis have the upperhand over the Irish (winning 4 of their last 6 encounters), the latter have proved time and again that they are not an outfit to be trifled with.
After all, Ireland beat Bangladesh in the Super Eights stage of the last world cup and that too convincingly, by 74 runs, as well as Pakistan and put up quite a fight against other top teams before bowing out. Bangladesh, itself overpowered super-powers India and South Africa in that tournament.
Testimony to the fact that these two sides are evenly matches is that they drew their last series against each other, which took place in Ireland last July. Ireland won the first of the two matches by 7 wickets. The visitors scored 234 thanks largely to a 100 from 123 balls by Junaid Siddique. It was a score the Irish surpassed in 45 overs as they were aided by 108 off 116 balls from opener/captain William Porterfield and 52 off 57 balls from Paul Stirling.
Then in the second match, the Bangladeshis hit back strongly, winning by 6 wickets with 50 balls remaining. Ireland had scored 189/9 with Gary Wilson top-scoring for his side with 60 off 64 balls, before the tourists romped home in the 38th over, courtesy a 74 from Tamim Iqbal. It was indeed a memorable series as the two sides matched each other, run for run, wicket for wicket.
Emerging as the most dangerous players for Bangladesh from their sextet of encounters against Ireland are Tamim Iqbal, who possesses an average of 58.20 from 5 innings and Junaid Siddique who has 56.50 to his credit, from 2. Meanwhile, the key players for Ireland going by their history against Bangladesh are William Porterfield who bears an average of 40.50 from 6 innings and Niall O'Brien who's average stands at 25.83 from the same number of innings.
However, Ireland trumps Bangladesh on the basis of individual-player performances in the warm-ups to this World Cup. William Porterfield score 72 off 74 balls in a terrifically close match against New Zealand, while Andre Botha made 11 against the Kiwis and 79 against Zimbabwe and Kevin O'Brien scored 17 and 62 not out in the same matches.
Bangladesh's best players on the other hand were Tamim Iqbal, who made 69 versus Canada, but a duck against Pakistan and Imrul Kayes, who made two 39s (the first unbeaten) against the same oppositions. However, Tamim was no doubt in quite his element in Saturday's match against India when he scored 70 off 87 balls.
All in all, the contest between these two sides is bound to be riveting when they take the field on Friday. Bangladesh, of course will enjoy home advantage, but will that be enough to counter the fiery resolve of the Irish...?