Ireland take confident stride into key clash with Sri Lanka

Victory would put Ireland on verge of qualification for Super 12 stage

Ireland’s Gareth Delany in action during his innings of 44 against the Netherlands in Abu Dhabi on Monday. Photograph: Pankaj Nangia/Inpho

Ireland’s Gareth Delany in action during his innings of 44 against the Netherlands in Abu Dhabi on Monday. Photograph: Pankaj Nangia/Inpho

 

T20 World Cup: Ireland v Sri Lanka, Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, 3pm Irish time – Live on Sky Sports

After a comprehensive victory over the Netherlands in their opening encounter on Monday, Ireland will face down Group A heavyweights Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday evening looking to take another step towards the Super 12 stages of the T20 World Cup.

Ireland have never beaten Sri Lanka at a World Cup in either 20- or 50-over formats but skipper Andrew Balbirnie struck a confident note after the opening seven-wicket win over the Dutch.

“You’re only as good as your next game I think and we’re going to play a really good Sri Lanka team in a couple of days and there’s no reason why we can’t beat these sort of teams regularly,” said Balbirnie. “We’ve done it in the past here and there so if we can pick up that win as well it will certainly go a long way to trying to get into the main competition.”

Sri Lanka also enjoyed a comprehensive win in their opening game, also winning by seven wickets against Namibia, wrapping the game up with 39 balls remaining to take top spot in the table on net run rate.

Spinners Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva took five Namibian wickets between them as they bowled out the African side for 96 but Balbirnie has backed Gareth Delany to continue his aggressive approach with the the bat that saw him top score with 44 from 29 balls against the Dutch.

“He’s peaking at the right time, he had a brilliant innings last week against Bangladesh and his form into today and played the sort of innings we want from him. We want him taking the attack to the bowlers and he did just that,” said Balbirnie who also commented on Paul Stirling’s more circumspect knock at the top of the order.

“I think Paul can play whatever innings he likes at this stage, he’s that important to us, he did exactly what we needed from him, he played brilliantly in the powerplay and then set up shop for the day and took us home, just another really important innings from him.”

The top two sides from each group go on to the Super 12s stage of the competition, with Ireland set to play Namibia in their final Group A game on Friday.

Scotland have one step in the main competition after following up their stunning win over Bangladesh on Monday with a 17-run win over Papua New Guinea in a Pool B encounter in Al Amerat, Oman on Tuesday.

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