Ireland face defending champions India on Tuesday where a shock victory would put them into the World Cup quarter-finals and leave either Pakistan or West Indies facing elimination.
Non-Test playing Ireland have already hunted down two Full Members — the West Indies and Zimbabwe — in Pool B so far on their way to six points from four matches but know they will expect no mercy against India who have won all four matches so far to comfortably reach the last-eight.
“I don’t think their guard will ever be down and they’re not going to look to lose any momentum from their point of view. Whatever they decide to do is out of our control,” said Ireland captain William Porterfield.
Ireland are no strangers to upsetting big teams.
They famously ousted Pakistan from the 2007 World Cup held in the West Indies on their way to the Super Eights where they beat Bangladesh and then defeated England in the 2011 tournament.
Ireland started their campaign with a shock four-wicket win over former champions the West Indies and then outlasted United Arab Emirates by two wickets.
They came down with a nasty bump against rampaging South Africa in their third match, losing by 201 runs, before they upset Zimbabwe in a five-run thriller in Hobart on Saturday.
“We’ve just got to keep all the momentum and keep improving the little things and keep taking things forward,” said Porterfield, whose team play Pakistan in their last group match in Adelaide on March 15.
“We’ve been able to win three from four so we’re doing something right along the way,” said the Irish captain whose team has lost both their one-day internationals against India — the last in the 2011 World Cup.
Porterfield hopes his bowlers lift their performance against a batting power-house like India after conceding 304 runs against the West Indies and 411 against South Africa.
In contrast, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is pleased with his bowling which was considered a weakness before the tournament.
“I feel the contribution of all the bowlers is superb,” said Dhoni of his attack who bowled the West Indies out for just 182 in their last game and South Africa for 177.
“Umesh (Yadav) is bowling well, he is bowling quickly. (Mohammad) Shami has taken the extra responsibility of bowling with the new ball, and it gives Mohit (Sharma) a bit more time in the middle order with a bit more feel, and he has been very consistent.”
Dhoni admitted the shorter boundaries in New Zealand, where they play their first match after four in Australia, is a concern.
“Yes, the short boundaries will be a bit of a concern, but overall, again, it will be good exposure for the bowlers, the reason being we are nicely positioned in the table right now, but we would still like to give our best,” said Dhoni.
It’s understood that India will try their bench strength before the quarter-finals by resting one of their frontline fast bowlers.