Ireland Bid To Avoid Wooden Spoon
Ireland and Bangladesh will contest what could be a $50,000 (25,000 pound) battle to avoid last place in the World Cup Super Eights on Sunday.
A prize of $50,000 will be awarded to the eighth-placed side in the Super Eights, while $100,000 goes to seventh. Such an amount could do a lot for Irish cricket, which has only two full-time administrators on the payroll.
The match in Barbados was initially sold out as most expected the fixture to be between rivals India and Pakistan.
But World Cup debutants Ireland progressed against the odds after beating 1992 champions Pakistan in the group phase. They are winless in the Super Eights but have targeted this match.
"It's a huge game for us and it is the one game we looked at and thought we could win this," Ireland skipper Trent Johnston said. "It would mean everything (to beat them). We have come here to put Irish cricket on the map."
Kyle McCallan, Irish vice-captain, was just as determined. "We don't disrespect Bangladesh but they are probably the next weakest team in the Super Eights, he said. "We don't want to be going back in last place. It will be our cup final tomorrow, but we have no illusions."
Bangladesh, who were also surprise qualifiers after upsetting 1983 champions India in the group stage, added the shock scalp of South Africa in the Super Eights.
They hold two points and still have a mathematical chance of making the semi-finals. Realistically, they want to beat Ireland and overcome struggling hosts West Indies in their final game.
"We are looking forward to the two games left and we should finish sixth or seventh," captain Habibul Bashar said.
Ireland hope to recall all-rounder key Andre Botha, who missed the last two games because of a hamstring injury.
"If he makes it he would strengthen our batting and he has been our best bowler for some time so we would very much like him to play in this match," coach Adrian Birrell told Reuters.
Bangladesh have retained the 12 from Wednesday's defeat by England.
"They think probably this is the only chance for them to win," Bangladesh batsman Shahriar Nafees said of the Irish. "It can help us a bit because if they are thinking about the game too much they can put pressure on themselves."
(Additional reporting by N.Ananthanarayanan)
By Richard Sydenham
© Reuters 2007.