Can SA meet Irish challenge?

Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 10:01 [IST]
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South Africa Vs Ireland
Starting time: 2:30 pm IST
Venue: Kolkata

Kolkata, March 14: South Africa will be chuffed about their narrow win over India on Saturday while Ireland who had a somewhat close game against the West Indies will be hungry for causing another upset. It won't be easy - considering they have lost to SA in the only previous time these two sides have met.

Can SA meet Irish challenge?

That occasion was June, 2007, at Belfast, when set with a maximum of 31 overs, South Africa posted a competitive 173 with present wicket-keeper Morne Van Wyk top-scoring with 52 off 84 balls. The Irish reply was not as strong, as the side folded for 131 in 30.5 overs, thus losing the match by 42 runs. Still, the hosts didn't go down to an outright thrashing as one might have expected.

Less that half of both the sides remain the same as there have been many entrances and exits since 2007. For South Africa, the surviving members are - Jacques Kallis, A B De Villiers, Morne van Wyk, J P Duminy and Dale Steyn, while for Ireland, the remaining veterans in the team are - captain William Porterfield, Ed Joyce, the O'Brien brothers - Niall and Kevin - and fast bowler Trent Johnston.

The Irish batting this World Cup is looking inconsistent with Kevin O'Brien heading the averages' list for his side with 41.00. But having had two poor previous outings, he will be due for some runs when he takes guard against the Proteas on Tuesday. Higher up the order, Niall O'Brien and Ed Joyce have been doing a fairly commendable job, each making around 34 runs per match, but the openers - William Porterfield (avg: 26.50) and Paul Stirling (avg: 11:50) have disappointed.

In contrast, the South African batsmen are going great guns. A B de Villiers is one the leading run-scorers of the tournament and is in devasating form with an average of 106.00 so far. Hashim Amla comes in second at 57.50, while J P Duminy with 35.00 and Graeme Smith with 25.75 have been less impressive.

The South African bowling trumps that of Ireland, but not by much. After his match-turning-around 5/50 against India, Steyn has proved that he can be deadly dangerous in the death overs. He is averaging just 13.70 in the Cup so far with 10 scalps from four matches. Meanwhile off-spinner Robin Peterson too is in great form, with 7 wickets from three games to his name at an average even better than Steyn's at 12.28.

In comparison, Ireland seamer John Mooney is averaging 23.43 with 7 wickets from 4 matches followed by spinners George Dockrell, who has 25.83 with 6 wickets from the same number of matches and Andre Botha, who is averaging 22.00 with four scalps from 2 matches.

It will no doubt be an intriguing contest on Tuesday with Ireland struggling to stave off elimination from the tournament and the Porteas looking to consolidate their already strong position in Group B.

Oneindia Cricket

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