MUSCAT, FEB 10 – Four strong teams will give nothing away and fight for the glory in the T20 Quadrangular Series starting in Al Amerat on February 13 and Ireland captain Paul Stirling promises his team will be ready for the competition. Following a long winter break, Ireland showed signs of rustiness in its shocking defeats to Oman Development XI on Saturday and Sunday. Stirling is not worried though as he thinks his team has enough talent and experience to do well in the tournament.
“We have been in Oman for a few days now and the facilities here are great. The wickets are perfect and wonderful to bat on. We hardly had five to six days to prepare after a long winter break but we are ready and looking forward to the Quadrangular Series,” he said.
Mindful of having lost to Oman by 2 wickets in the World T20 back in 2016 at Dharamsala, India, the Ireland captain said his team was keen to reverse that result in their favour and score a win over Oman.
“We certainly wouldn’t be taking them lightly. We also know how good the Dutch are. They have defeated us a number of times in the last few years but we feel this is a sort of fresh start for us and we can hopefully come out and take them on really in this series. We are also aware of how strong Scotland are. They beat England last year and are on a bit of a high. These are exciting times for all the sides and we certainly will not be taking anything for granted. We are going to be trying our best to win this series,” he said.
He particularly picked up the Netherlands as a harder nut to crack.
“They are a very good team on paper and will be here on full strength. They have players who play cricket around the world, some of them play professional county cricket in England like Roelof Van der Merwe and Ryan ten Doeschate and Timm van der Gugten. However, we have played Oman and Scotland before and can’t take them lightly as they are just as tough. This is a strong tournament that Oman is hosting. It’s a country I and some of my team-mates have never visited before and we are enjoying our stay here,” he added.
He hoped that the Oman tour will help his team prepare well for the series against Afghanistan in India where they will play three T20s, five ODIs, and one Test.
“The wickets in northern India are slightly harder and those in Dehradun where we will play all our matches are going to be similar. We have seen the wickets here in Oman. They look hard and there is a bit of grass on them. That’s something we are really exciting about and will help us prepare well. We certainly would love to come back here in Oman and prepare for our future series,” said the Irish captain who struck a superb 78 off 48 balls on in Sunday’s loss to Oman Development team.
Talking about his team’s bowling resources for the Afghanistan tour, the Ireland captain said his side was well equipped with experienced bowlers and exciting new talent as well.
“We have strong pacers in our team like Boyd Rankin and Peter Chase who are tall and extract a lot of bounce. They can bowl at good pace and take wickets. We will certainly be looking to attack in that series through pace and bounce and hopefully spinners can hold and do their job as well,” he added.
“When you are new to Test cricket, you have to learn to land on your feet. We have played only one Test (against Pakistan in 2018) and I am sure our lads learnt a lot from it. We know if we keep improving we will be able to do something special in Test cricket. The series against Afghanistan will help us improve as a team,” he remarked.