Abu Dhabi: Ireland and the Netherlands would be aiming to go all out in their opening campaign at the ICC T20 World Cup here, as a win later on Monday would be crucial to their aspirations of securing a ‘Super 12’ berth in the tournament.
Both Group A teams now boast of some good batters and bowlers who can upset the form book and secure their respective teams ‘Super 12’ berths ahead of pool favourites and former world champions Sri Lanka, and fellow Group A hopefuls Namibia.
Despite the Dutch arriving in the T20 World Cup without much warm-up time, their core group has been playing across the world in various franchise competitions. Back in 2019 they won the qualifying tournament, defeating Ireland in the semifinals before dispatching Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the final.
For Ireland, though, it is a period of both promise and transition Ireland as many of the golden generation, who established the side as a white-ball force, especially in 50-over cricket, have either retired or moved to coaching. Still, old hands such as Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien will add experience to a young and talented but raw squad.
The Irish group has plenty of power hitting, while the pace attack offers variety and depth. But balance could be an issue, with wicketkeeper Neil Rock possibly featuring as high as six to accommodate more bowling options. Whether Ireland stick with that setup, or look to utilise their part-time bowling options to make up the fifth set of overs remains to be seen.
But, regardless of the balance of the attack, if opening batters Stirling and O’Brien can operate effectively in the powerplay then Ireland have a good chance of not just making it out of Group A but also having a good crack at the ‘Super 12′.
Netherlands’ strength is their pace attack, which may trouble the best sides in the world if they make it through to the Super 12s.
Ireland skipper Andy Balbirnie said, “We do have a lot of youth and inexperience in our squad — this is the first big ICC event for a lot of our guys — but we’ve had a good build-up here, played some good games, and we’re slowly getting to where we want to be in that first game. We’ve got a crop of young, hungry cricketers… who want to go out and express themselves on the world stage.”
Dutch captain Pieter Seelaar, said, “There’s no clear favourite and no weak side (in Group A). I wouldn’t say Sri Lanka is going to go through, they are going to have a hard time beating all three of us.”
Possible Netherlands playing XI: Stephan Myburgh, Max O’Dowd, Ben Cooper, Colin Ackermann, Ryan ten Doeschate, Roelof van der Merwe, Scott Edwards, Pieter Seelar, Paul van Meekeren, Fred Klaasen, Timm van der Gugten
Possible Ireland playing XI: Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, Andy Balbirnie, Gareth Delaney, Curtis Campher, Neil Rock, Simi Singh, Josh Little, Ben White, Mark Adair, Craig Young.