Ireland look to change Twenty20 fortunes against India’s galacticos
New skipper Gary Wilson calls on side to play with greater freedom
India captain Virat Kohli leads a strong squad for the two T20 internationals against Ireland in Malahide. Photograph: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images
T20 International: Ireland v India, Malahide CC, 4pm (Live Sky Sports Mix, 3.55pm)
Packed stands baking under an Irish heatwave will greet the galacticos of world cricket in Malahide this week when India will provide the opposition in two Twenty20 internationals, the first of which gets underway this afternoon at 4pm.
With an estimated quarter of a billion television audience expected to tune in to India’s first game of a long summer tour, there would be no better time for Ireland to make a start on turning around their fortunes in the shortest format in international cricket.
Ireland presently prop up the ICC rankings in 17th position, with Oman and Hong Kong holding the two places directly above and Afghanistan - who were given full member status with Ireland last summer - up in eighth position above Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
It’s hard to nail down just why Ireland have failed to bring their successes from 50-overs cricket to the T20 arena, although they certainly flattered to deceive in their first big outing in the format, beating Bangladesh by six wickets at Trent Bridge in the World Twenty20 in 2008.
The decade since has had more lowlights than highlights, with an overall record of 27 wins in 65 T20 internationals, including just three against a major cricketing power. Ireland’s introduction to the Future Tour Programme will certainly solve the opportunity issue, with at least 63 T20 internationals over the next four years.
Gary Wilson, who has taken over the captaincy of the Ireland T20 side from William Porterfield, believes the mindset is the first thing that has to change and has asked his players to enjoy the opportunity of taking on such vaunted opposition as India.
“We want them to play with freedom, T20 cricket is a great form of the game, you have to get out there, stick your chest out, keep your chin up and go toe to toe with anyone, whoever that is you’re playing on any day,” said Wilson.
“And we’re playing India tomorrow and they’re probably the best T20 side in the world. But we want to take them on head to head and show what we’re about as well. Obviously we are where we are in the rankings, that’s happened, we can’t change that now. We can focus on playing good cricket, we can focus on playing with freedom and enjoyment and giving the lads the opportunity to express themselves, which is what we’ve spoken about and hopefully you’ll see that over the next couple of days.”
With their squad having been through an Indian Premier League season, India have had a low-key build-up to the games, arriving in Dublin on Tuesday from England, where they will play three T20s, three ODIs and five Test matches.
Virat Kohli leads a 16-strong panel packed full of world-class talent, with Ireland’s bowlers tasked with containing such brilliant strokemakers as Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni and the skipper himself, who has returned to fitness after suffering a neck injury during the IPL.
India’s big names have helped Cricket Ireland sell out Friday’s double header - the Irish women play Bangladesh at Malahide at 11am - with Wednesday’s opener down to the last few hundred by 6pm on Tuesday. With the weather set fair, some midsummer T20 mayhem is on the cards.
IRELAND (Squad): Gary Wilson (Derbyshire, capt), Andrew Balbirnie (Pembroke/Leinster Lightning), Peter Chase (Malahide/Leinster Lightning), George Dockrell (Leinster CC/Leinster Lightning), Josh Little (Pembroke/Leinster Lightning), Andrew McBrine (Donemana/NW Warriors), Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union/Leinster Lightning), William Porterfield (Formby/NW Warriors), Stuart Poynter (Durham), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire/NW Warriors), James Shannon (Instonians/Northern Knights), Simi Singh (YMCA/Leinster Lightning), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Stuart Thompson (Eglinton/NW Warriors).
INDIA (Squad): Virat Kohli (capt), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Siddarth Kaul, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Washington Sundar, Umesh Yadav.