‘Ireland will be fearless in World Cup qualifier’

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Ireland captain Laura Delany has promised her side’s approach in the forthcoming Women’s World Cup T20 Qualifier will be “fearless and aggressive”.

The Irish, coached by former Ireland and England batter Ed Joyce, will face familiar opposition in the group stage of the tournament in the form of Zimbabwe and the Netherlands in Abu Dhabi.

They will open their campaign against the United Arab Emirates on Thursday and will also play Vanuatu.

A total of 10 teams are chasing two spots at this year’s World Cup in Bangladesh in September and October.

“They [the United Arab Emirates] are playing in home conditions, that’s always an advantage for any team,” said Delany of her side’s opener.

“They have some very good players we have seen on footage so it’ll be about trying to restrict those top-order batters to as few runs as possible and as batters putting on a really fearless and aggressive display.

“When Ed took over he wanted us to play that style of cricket. The top three have taken to that very quickly and although it has taken time the middle order are going out now and playing with that fearless mindset, more aggressive and attacking.”

‘A really exciting team to watch’

Sri Lanka are the top-ranked side in the tournament, with Thailand, Scotland, Uganda and the USA the other competing nations.

Delany believes qualification for the World Cup would increase the exposure of women’s cricket in Ireland, providing an opportunity for the team to showcase their talents to a wider audience and inspire others to take up the sport.

“It would be massive for us as a group and for women’s cricket in Ireland [to qualify].

“Very few of our games are televised so to qualify for a World Cup would mean that those games are shown on TV and hopefully that would increase the audience around women’s cricket.

“We want to show people that not only are there opportunities to make a career as a female athlete but there is so much potential within this group and if we go out and play to that potential we are a really exciting team to watch.”

‘A very good test of where we are at’

Ireland won seven out of eight matches across T20 fixtures and one-day internationals on their winter tour to Zimbabwe and defeated Thailand by eight wickets in the T20 format in the run-up to the World Cup qualifying tournament.

A defeat by Scotland followed in a warm-up match, then a four-wicket win over the United States on Tuesday.

“For us as a group to be playing against the best sides in the world that’s exactly where you want to be. That’s why these tournaments are so important, nerve-racking as they are at times,” explained the Ireland skipper, who has passed the 200-cap mark.

“One of the challenges is playing against different teams every time you go out onto the pitch, especially teams that you don’t know too much about or you haven’t played frequently over the past few years.

“On the flip side, that’s a very good test of where we are at, individually and as a team and how you stand up against that. We have expectations of what we want out of this tournament.

“We just have to stick to our basics and be smart enough to change if that’s not going to plan.”

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