T20 World Cup 2021 | Sri Lanka deserve to go through, we will be eyeing the second spot, says Andy Balbirnie

T20 World Cup 2021 | Sri Lanka deserve to go through, we will be eyeing the second spot, says Andy Balbirnie

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Ireland will face Namibia in a must-win game on Friday

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| Twitter - Ireland Cricket

Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie has said that the Sri Lankan team deserved to qualify for the Super 12s at the T20 World Cup 2021, and he now lays foucs on leading his team to the next round. After going down to Sri Lanka by 70 runs on Wednesday, Ireland will face Namibia a must-win game on Friday.

In their second Round 1 match on Wednesday, Ireland won the toss and inserted Sri Lanka in, and reduced them to 8/3 in 1.4 overs, with Paul Stirling and Joshua Little delivering early blows. Pathum Nissanka and Wanindu Hasaranga stitched a 123-run partnership to power Sri Lanka to 171/7 at the end of 20 overs.

Hasaranga, who was promoted upo the order scored a 47-ball 71, striking 10 fours and one six, while Nissanka scored 61 47 six fours and one hit over the ropes. Skipper Dasun Shanaka amassed a quickfire 21 off 11, and for Ireland, Joshua Little returned with 23/4 in four overs. 

In reply, Ireland were bundled out for 101, handing the opponents a 70-run win. Skipper Andy Balbirnie and Curtis Campher were the only batsman to reach the double-digit score with 41 and 24 respectively.

Balbirnie said that the batting unit didn’t get any momentum, as he praised Sri Lanka for their all-round effort. He also reflected on the difficulty in batting on the quick Abu Dhabi surface, and hoped for his batters to deliver their best in their next match.

"Our batting just didn't get going at all," Balbirnie said. "We couldn't get any momentum. I scored forty-odd, and it took me quite a few balls, and I certainly found it tricky enough. Sri Lanka are a good team. They deserve to go through. We'll be eyeing up the second spot.

"We don't get wickets like this and we don't get pace like that too often like that at home. But the more we go up the levels - and if we go well on Friday, looking ahead to next week - it's only going to get quicker. They were quite skiddy, the bowlers. They bowled good short balls. But that's what you expect at the international level and you've got to find ways to cope.

"I love that challenge, and a lot of our batters do, to get out there and having the ball zinging past your head - that's the battle we want to be in. We're not going to be able to change that over the course of the week if we do qualify. But we've just got to back our skills and take it head on and not back away from it. That's a mental thing, rather than a technical thing. But we don't want to get too ahead of ourselves. We've got a big game on Friday."

Ireland will face Namibia in a must-win game on Friday, with the winner set to make the Super 12s stage. Earlier on Wednesday, Namibia beat Netherlands by six wickets, thanks to David Wiese, who first bagged 1/32 and then scored unbeaten 66 off 40 in a run-chase of 165.

Balbirnie looked forward to the challenge against an in-form team.

"We certainly wanted to come in and win today and potentially put Friday not in the back of our minds but you want to win all the games," Balbirnie said. "But we came up against a really good Sri Lanka team today and certainly our attention is turning fully on Friday, which becomes pretty much a straight knockout.

"We know their threats and we know they're a good team. They ran us pretty close in the qualifiers a couple of years ago, and it's going to be a really good game, two good teams gunning for a huge prize at the end of it. We'll have a rest day tomorrow and come out to Sharjah on Friday, and look forward to the challenge."

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