Ireland may be struggling with the ball in the series, which will seriously hinder their chances of progressing further in the tournament. But, the match against Zimbabwe was another clear indication that they have some serious talent in the batting department. If you take out the match against South Africa, they have excelled with the bat in all the other three games, against West Indies, UAE and against Zimbabwe as well on Saturday. It was thanks to their brilliant batting that Ireland managed to sneak out a win against Zimbabwe even though their bowling was again taken to the cleaners.
Ireland’s batting was built on a superlative century by Ed Joyce. He may have struggled while playing for England in one-dayers, but he clearly has showed a lot more panache while turning out for Ireland. The responsibility of being one of the senior-most batsman in the side has certainly made him a mature player, and it has been evident in his recent performances. At Hobart, Joyce displayed his wide range of strokes, and came up with a wonderful century to set up Ireland for a big score. His consistency has been a real plus for Ireland this World Cup, which has been crucial since he has been batting at number three.
While Joyce’s experienced is aiding the side, the youthful exuberance of Andy Balbirnie has been equally useful. Balbirnie is rated highly in Ireland, and he has illustrated in this World Cup why it is so. Against South Africa, he was the only batsman to cross the half-century mark. In the game against Zimbabwe, he went a step further and almost brought up his maiden hundred. Balbirnie gave perfect company to Joyce, and played some sizzling strokes during his stay at the crease. He is certainly one Ireland batsman world cricket must watch out for. There are still a couple of games left for Ireland, and Balbirnie would be keen to continue his good form.
Most of Ireland’s batsmen have been among the runs during the course of the World Cup. If anything, they need more runs from their skipper William Porterfield. He got a start again from their opener, but he failed to carry on, not for the first time in the tournament. There were finally some positives for Ireland in the bowling department. Alex Cusack was the best of Ireland bowlers. He finished with fantastic figures of 4 for 32, and finished off Zimbabwe. George Dockrell against impressed, but his numbers did not reflect the same. The others need to step up.
Zimbabwe were brilliant in the chase after a poor start. Brendan Taylor matched Ed Joyce stroke for stroke in his hundred while Sean Williams knock was strikingly similar to that of Balbirnie. However, their collapse in the last few overs hurt them badly. In spite of the fact that Taylor and Williams played some splendid strokes, the pressure of the big chase was always on Zimbabwe. And, when Williams fell in the 47th over, the match turned Ireland’s way. Zimbabwe fought till the end, but Ireland held on.
--By A Cricket Analyst