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Ireland to play first match in ICC Men's T20 World Cup today

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The Ireland Men’s cricket team starts its ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign today with a first round match against Netherlands, starting at 2pm (UAE time) or 11am (Irish time).

The last week has involved several warm-up matches and intensive training sessions in the heat, however, yesterday was a rest day for the squad. Head Coach Graham Ford and captain Andrew Balbirnie have a full squad to pick from today as there are no fitness concerns within the playing group.

At a press conference last night, bowling all-rounder Simi Singh said:

“Growing up I think it’s every cricketer’s dream to play in a World Cup. I made my international debut a while ago, but now I’m finally part of a World Cup squad - it’s an amazing feeling and I’m absolutely looking forward to the games.”

“As a player you’re under pressure every game, so it’s been good to have the confidence of the captain in my game – whether with the bat or ball, Andrew has shown great confidence in me and I hope I can continue to contribute for the team.”

Asked about his leg-spin variations, Singh said:

“I’ve been working on the leggies for about 3 or 4 years, so it’s been a long-term plan. They are coming out well at the moment. I feel that to take the ball away from the right-handers is a great option, especially in this format – it’s great to have a few more variations than just the off-spinner, so I’m looking forward to bringing them out in the next few games. The leggie is a high-risk, high-reward ball, so I only look to use it when we need it.” 

Head Coach Graham Ford said:

“We have had a good build up – we had a couple of defeats early and the heat was extreme and took a while to get used to, but we have had some good practice surfaces and the [official] practice games have been good as well.” 

“Our Group is extremely tough, and with any of the teams it will be about who can turn it on on the day. Every game is a must win game at this stage – regardless of the opposition you go in with the same intent, the same determination.”

Asked about the importance of the power play, Ford said:

“The power play overs are very important to get right in T20, as are the death overs they are massively important. As they say, start well and finish well and you have a pretty good chance. Out here, the importance of the power play really depends on the day and the surface - we haven’t had a chance to look at this pitch, but we’ve done a fair bit of homework about how the pitches have played during the IPL.”

“Every ball in T20 cricket is an event. If you’re winning every ball - or trying to win every ball - then you’ve got a chance.”

Ireland’s Men’s T20 World Cup campaign begins today in Abu Dhabi against the Netherlands.

The game starts at 2pm (UAE time) or 11am (Irish time) – coverage in Ireland/UK is on Sky Sports from 10.30am.