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Ireland skipper feels pressure all on West Indies ahead of T20 World Cup showdown
The winner reaches the next round.

IRELAND CAPTAIN ANDREW Balbirnie suggested the pressure is on West Indies ahead of their crunch T20 World Cup showdown at Hobart on Friday.

The Windies are the only side to have won this tournament more than once – in 2012 and 2016 – but face an ignominious first-round exit if they do not emerge victorious against Ireland.

Each of the four teams in Group B are on two points – which means Scotland versus Zimbabwe is also a winner-takes-all clash – and Balbirnie believes all the expectation will be on the Windies’ shoulders.

By contrast, Balbirnie feels Ireland rebounding from defeat to Zimbabwe by beating Scotland earlier this week has given them fresh belief that they can go on to secure a spot in the main Super 12s stage.

“There’s obviously a lot of pressure on the West Indies, coming in as group favourites,” he said. “They’re going to be expected to win, a lot of people are going to be expecting them to win.

“They’ve won the competition twice, they’ve got some hugely experienced T20 players. But we’re a good team in our right, too, we’ve played some pretty good cricket.

“There’s some real confidence in the group after (beating Scotland), that was just really special to be there and be a part of and have friends and family there, it’s just lifted the group even further.

“It’ll be disappointing if we couldn’t back it up because if we don’t we’ll be on the plane on Saturday. Hopefully we can produce something special.”

Having slipped to a 31-run defeat to Zimbabwe in their opener, Ireland were staring at elimination after lurching to 61 for four in pursuit of 177 against Scotland, who had earlier stunned the Windies.

But an unbroken 119-run partnership between Curtis Campher and George Dockrell secured a priceless six-wicket triumph for the Irish as they lived to fight another day.

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They can be reasonably confident heading to the Bellerive Oval, having claimed a famous 2-1 victory in an ODI series over the Windies in the Caribbean in January.

“The beauty of this team is we never really feel out of the game, particularly with our batting. I think that showed (against Scotland),” Balbirnie said.

“The confidence in the group has showed over the last eight to 10 months, we don’t go out and fear any team anymore, that’s gone out of our mindset.

“Sometimes a team might be more skilful than us on the day and that probably showed against Zimbabwe but there’s definitely no fear of any opposition when we go into a game.”

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