Hamilton, Mar 9: On the cusp of creating World Cup history, a supremely confident India will aim to crush a gutsy Ireland in their penultimate group encounter of the ICC cricket World Cup, here tomorrow.
Having already qualified for the quarter-finals with four commanding wins, the defending champions are eyeing their fifth straight win in the tournament.
If India happen to win tomorrow, it will create a new World Cup record of winning nine straight matches at the global event, starting from their win against the West Indies in Chennai during the 2011 edition.
It will be another David vs Goliath contest where India will be looking to maintain their supremacy over Ireland, who are seeking fourth spot in Pool B to make the quarter-final grade.
The last time India met Ireland was in Bangalore during the last edition of the World Cup, where the hosts comfortably beat their opponents by five wickets as Yuvraj Singh emerged as the star performer with a 'five-for' and a half-century.
Such has been the impact created by the Mohammed Shamis and the Ravichandran Ashwins that none of the opposition teams batsmen have been able to post a total of 250 in the competition.
The tournament till now has been all about the resurgence of India's bowling unit which has taken 37 wickets amongst themselves in the four matches.
If one takes out Bhuvneshwar Kumars single wicket effort against UAE, the other five have shared the 36 among them. While Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Shami with nine wickets apiece have been the two prime performers, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja with six scalps apiece have done their job with equal efficiency and sincerity.
One small piece of statistic will be testimony to the kind of influence the bowlers have had in the ongoing tournament, one should sample the economy rate of the five-pronged bowling attack.
The worst economy rate, if one dare to say so, is that of left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, whose economy rate has been a very decent 4.51 runs per over.
For Ireland, it will be a golden opportunity
It will also be a chance for Indian batsmen to change It will also be a chance for Indian batsmen to change their poor track record at the Seddon Park where they have won only two of the eight ODIs and Virender Sehwags hundred in 2002-03 is the only three-figure mark achieved by an Indian batsman.
For Ireland, it will be a golden opportunity to make it to the last eight but for that they would have to either beat India tomorrow or Pakistan in the next game which is a tall order.
Ed Joyce, who has played ODIs for England has been their prime performer with 233 runs from four games while Andy Balbirnie with 219 runs hasnt been far behind.
Their mercurial big-hitter Kevin OBrien has fired only once in the tournament so far and would ideally like him to do more. Ditto for his brother Niall OBrien who played a good hand in their shock win over the West Indies.
However the Irish bowling in absence of pacer Boyd Rankin (who played a Test match during last Ashes tour) doesnt have the necessary firepower to trouble India.
It will depend a lot on seamer-all-rounder Alex Cusack (6 wickets) and left-arm spinner George Dockrell (5 wickets) but they don't have enough experience or guile to stop a formidable Indian batting line-up. In all, another contest heavily loaded in Indias favour.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Axar Patel, Ambati Rayudu, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Ireland: William Porterfield (captain), Andy Balbirnie, Paul Stirling, Niall OBrien, Kevin O Brien, Ed Joyce, Peter Chase, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, John Mooney, Max Sorensen, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young Andy McBrine.
Match starts at 6 30 AM IST