Ireland Vs India: 5 Players to Watch Out For
Ireland no push over
The prelude to the India - England showdown is a lop-sided contest of two T20Is between the third ranked T20I side and the 17th ranked side. Ireland, who recently made their Test debut against Pakistan, get to play India in two T20I matches in three days and despite the fact that the visitors might be seeing this as a warm-up to the bigger challenge ahead, Ireland would be itching to show they aren't mere pushovers. With the much awaited series coming up, we identify five players to watch out for in these two days:
The Indian vice-captain was recently in the news for his late yo-yo test, delayed by a commitment in Russia. While rumours were thrown around about this being Rohit’s third yo-yo test in a month, the swashbuckling opener squashed rumours by clearing the test with flying colours and followed it up with a bashing of his critics in social media.
With the T20Is against Ireland coming shortly afterward, the Mumbaikar would be fired up to perform. He had a disastrous IPL this year, notching up the least amount of runs he has ever had in an entire season and a move back to the top of the order could just be what Rohit needs right now.
That said, the ball does swing early on in Ireland and the World is familiar with the vice-captain's issues against the moving ball. England would be watching closely and Rohit might want to iron out any minor chinks in his armour before he goes on to play the Poms.
The architect of several of Ireland's famous wins, Kevin O'Brien is in fine nick after slamming a brilliant hundred against Pakistan in Ireland's debut Test. An experienced veteran, O’Brien is the X-factor in this Ireland line-up and could be the most watched out player in their line-up. A household name now, O’Brien boasts of a rather fine T20 record with both bat and ball.
He has a century and seven half-centuries aside from over a hundred wickets in 187 T20 games. While he has played just 63 of them for Ireland, O’Brien is well-versed with the requirements of being a T20 player. If India's wrist spinners don't get enough turn, the hard hitting all-rounder could prove to be quite a handful.
The Kolkata Knight Riders skipper had a rip-roaring IPL season where his finishing skills were lauded by one and all. Coming off the back of a brilliant finishing job in the Nidahas Trophy finals, Dinesh Karthik is all set to make room for himself in India's tightly packed batting line-up. MS Dhoni’s success at 4 and 5 in the IPL this year could see him being used above his normal batting position which leaves Karthik to do the finishing alongside Hardik Pandya.
A composed batsman, Karthik has shown a penchant for hitting boundaries at crucial moments in the game. His leadership skills at KKR earned rave reviews but here he would get ample time to concentrate just on his batting. Although it remains to be seen how often he could get to bat with India boasting a powerful top-order, Karthik can be trusted to shore them up in case of a blackout at the top.
A hard hitting opener and a more than useful off-spinner, Paul Stirling is among the most underrated names in Ireland cricket. He can take the sheen off the new ball with his powerful strokes and has time again shown a temperament to crack big scores in ODIs. While he is yet to get a T20I hundred, Stirling's ODI record proves that he is one knock away from altering that blemish.
His seven ODI hundreds include a mammoth 177 against Canada. He is coming off the back of a career-best 81 against Scotland last week in the tri-series in Netherlands. He scored two half-centuries in the series and appears all set to lambast India’a new ball bowlers.
The IPL has provided a new lease of life to Umesh Yadav’s limited-overs future. Sidelined in the last few months from the ODI and T20I side, Umesh showed exemplary skill with the new ball in the IPL, taking the most number of wickets in the powerplay overs this IPL playing for Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore.
His skiddy pace and movement off the deck could be a major threat in these conditions and he could be Kohli’s primary weapon with the new ball. Umesh was used to suck the life out of opposition's top order in the IPL and could don a similar role in Ireland and England. His exploits with the new ball could be one to watch out for especially with the team already boasting two fabulous seamers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.