Ireland, meanwhile, will be looking to seize this series as a chance to take on one of the powerhouses of international cricket. A full-time member of the ICC only since 2017, Irish cricket has come a long way but is still trying to work its way to the top of the international cricket chain.
With a talented group of cricketers, Ireland will be eager to perform at their best and stand out against an Indian side that lacks the services of Virat Kohl, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant and other top players. . And for that, the Irish have some interesting prospects in their roster.
Here, TimesofIndia.com takes a look at 5 Irish cricketers to watch in the T20I 2-match series in Dublin:
Andrew Balbirnie (captain – right bat)
Swashbuckling Andrew Balbirnie will be one of India’s biggest threats in the upcoming T20I 2-game series starting on Sunday. The Irish fly-half was terrific at the top of the order for his team and led from the front with the bat.
Skipper of Team Ireland since 2019, Balbirnie has so far represented Ireland in 67 T20Is where he has 1,429 runs at an average of 24.22. But the most impressive part of Balbirnie’s stick is his goalscoring rate at the top of the order. Known for giving his team great starts, Balbirnie gets the runs fast and had a 126+ strike rate in 67 T20I outings.
Andrew Balbirnie (Image credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
With 5 fifties T20Is to his name and a high score of 83, Balbirnie will be looking to make a statement against a relatively young Indian bowling attack in both T20Is.
To go along with their batting skills, Ireland will also look to Balbirnie to take over and deliver on the captaincy front against India, who will have a new skipper in Hardik Pandya in the upcoming series.
In the last 5 international T20Is played by Ireland in February, Balbirnie had scores of – 19, 33, 32, 12 and 4.
Andrew Balbirnie T20I Stats: Matches: 67; Races: 1429; SR: 126.68; SH: 83; 100S: 0; 50 years: 5
Paul Stirling (Versatile hitting – Right hand bat, right arm off break)
Currently one of the most experienced members of the Irish outfit, fly-half Paul Stirling will need to play a crucial role if his side are to do well against India. The Irish will rely heavily on the versatile 31-year-old to succeed against strong opposition.
The hard-hitting hitter at the top of the order has a ton of experience, playing in multiple T20 leagues and national games and that will pose a big threat. In the 102 T20I games Stirling has represented Ireland so far, he has 2,776 runs to his name averaging over 29.
Paul Sterling (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Stirling is also among the few to have hit a hundred in a T20 international – 115* against Zimbabwe in 2021.
With a ton and 20 fifties under his belt in his international career so far, the fly-half has been very impressive with his ability to hit the ball long and hard – with a strike rate of over 134.
With 20 wickets to his name also in the 102 T20I games he has played so far, Stirling is a complete package and will be a key player for Ireland.
Paul Sterling T20I Stats: Matches: 102; Races: 2776; SR: 134.69; SH: 115*; 100:1; 50 years: 20; Counters: 20; RE: 7.46; Best: 3-21
Andy McBrine (Bowler – Right arm off break)
Off-spinner Andy McBrine is the only spinner Ireland have included in their 14-man squad against India. Although Paul Stirling, Gareth Delany and George Dockrell will step in as spinners if needed, McBrine will be front row for Ireland in the spin department.
The 29-year-old has represented Ireland in 26 T20Is so far and has 21 wickets to his name. McBrine’s formidable save rate of 6.39 makes him a potential player to watch against India.
Andy McBrine (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Tight bowling and stifling opposition for runs has been McBrine’s strength and he hopes to continue to play economically against India’s experienced top hitters.
To go along with his bowling prowess, McBrine also has a batting rate of over 115 and can swing the bat in order if needed.
McBrine has won 6 wickets in his last 5 T20 internationals played in February.
Andy McBrine T20I Stats: Games: 26; Counter: 21; RE: 6.39; Best: 2-7
George Dockrell (Allrounder – Right Hand Bat, Slow Left Arm Orthodox)
George Dockrell has been in the Irish squad for some time now and the 29-year-old has made steady progress in his all-around skills. A slow left arm spinner who can also hit the ball long to the death, Dockrell will be looking to make his mark in the 2 T20Is against India.
In the 93 T20I matches he has played so far, Dockrell has 76 wickets and 445 runs to his name. Dockrell’s impressive save rate of just over 7 makes him a tough bowler to pursue in the middle overs and he will look to meet the challenge posed by high quality Indian hitters.
George Dockrell (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
With bat, Dockrell has a strike rate of over 121 and will be useful for Ireland further down the order.
With a combined experience of over 300 domestic white ball games and playing in different T20 leagues, the experienced Dockrell will be aiming for a solid performance against tough Indian opposition.
George Dockrell T20I Stats: Matches: 93; Strokes: 445; SH: 34*; SR: 121.91; Counters: 76; RE: 7.12; Best: 4-20
Craig Young (Bowler – Fast Medium Right Arm)
Craig Young will lead the rhythm offense for Ireland in the series against India. Currently the Irish outfit’s most experienced pacer, Young will be joined by Barry McCarthy, Joshua Little, Mark Adair and debutant Conor Olphert.
Craig Young (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
In the 48 T20 internationals Young has represented Ireland so far, the 32-year-old has 48 scalps to his name with a saving of 7.79.
Young’s career-best numbers of 4 for 13 came against Nigeria in 2019 and has a couple of fours to his name in the shortest format.
In the last 5 T20Is he played in February, Young won 12 wickets.
Craig Young T20I Stats: Matches: 48; Counters: 48; RE: 7.79; Best: 4-13
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