Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie, whose ton on Tuesday propelled his side to a famous win over South Africa, admitted that the occasion was special, but stressed that Ireland are fully focussed on winning the three-match series. The win on Tuesday pushed Ireland to fifth in the Super League table.
It was Irish delight in Dublin on Tuesday as the Andrew Balbirnie-led Ireland team registered one of the biggest wins in the country’s cricketing history as they downed South Africa by 43-runs. Inserted into bat, Ireland, led by skipper Balbirnie’s century and Harry Tector’s 79, posted 290 off 50 overs. In response, a fine partnership from Janneman Malan and Rassie van der Dussen put the Proteas in pole position, but an exceptional effort with the ball in the latter stages of the match handed the Irish a famous 43-run win, their third of the ODI Super League.
Speaking post the win, skipper Balbirnie admitted that it was a historic occasion for the country, but insisted that, despite the huge result, his boys will be fully focused on winning the series come Friday.
“The way our guys bowled at the death and the middle was amazing. It was a win that we really needed. I thought we outfielded them today, which made the difference. Tector's freedom while batting was a match-winning. We'll enjoy this - it's the first time we have beaten them and it's a huge day for Ireland. We will have a few beers, it's not everyday that you beat a team of this stature but we have another target in mind, that is to win the series on Friday,” Balbirnie said.
South Africa are the second giant Ireland have slayed in the past 12 months as last year, the Men in Green beat world champions England in Southampton in a game that saw them chase down 329. Balbirnie stressed that a series win against the Proteas will be a testament to the progress his side have made. The Ireland skipper also said that his side try to ‘get the most out of’ big matches, as they seldom go toe-to-toe against the biggest sides in world cricket.
"We've beaten big teams before but we haven't beaten them consistently. We don't have the players these teams have, we don't have the infrastructure or the exposure. A lot of the South African team have played in the IPL. We don't get that," Balbirnie said.
"So what we do, when we do play these big teams, we get the most of out of these games and we try to put in our best performance. We are thrilled and beating them once off is great but winning a series at the end of the week will be so important, because it shows we're making strides."
A win in the decider on Friday would put Ireland third on the ODI Super League table, and Balbirnie hoped for his side to keep up the high standards and come out all guns blazing.
“We've played really good cricket over the last two games so it will be disappointing if we drop our standards for the last game. They have just come off a tour of West Indies so they are looking to rest people and rotate people but when we get opportunities to play these teams we want to come out all guns blazing and hopefully turn them over,” the Ireland skipper said.
South African skipper Temba Bavuma, meanwhile, conceded that his side were totally outplayed, and asserted that they will have to ‘have a lot of conversations’ before the third and final ODI.
“We didn't take it lightly, but they outplayed us in all facets. Their fielding was impressive. They nailed their batting and bowling skills too, and we need to do a lot of work. The plan for us in the first PP was taking wickets and we couldn't do so. We created chances but our fielding let us down,” Bavuma said.
“We pride ourselves on our fielding. Momentum was on their side and we couldn't get any on our side. No partnerships for us either, other than Rassie and Malan, and a lot of conversations need to happen and need to translate to execution on the field.”
South Africa rested Quinton de Kock and Lungi Ngidi for the second ODI, and the Proteas skipper insisted that those decisions were taken keeping in mind the workload endured by the two players.
"With Quinny, we are trying to manage his workload and get Janneman [Malan] into the side - he has done very well in white-ball cricket," Bavuma said.
"With Lungi, from a workload point of view, in the last game, his speeds were lower than normal. That was the thinking behind those decisions."