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'We could have won a lot easier than that,' admits relieved Irish cricket coach Phil Simmons

“It’s a great start, but there are three games in the group and we know how dangerous UAE can be,” he added.

Phil Simmons was a relieved man after Ireland's win today.
Phil Simmons was a relieved man after Ireland's win today.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

IRELAND COACH PHIL Simmons expressed relief after his side defeated Zimbabwe in their Cricket World Cup opener today.

The Irish team appeared to be in a comfortable position in the dying stages, but the loss of three wickets late on meant they had to secure a last-ball victory.

And their Trinidad and Tobago-born coach admitted the his side made life difficult for themselves.

“We’ll take the win but we’ll look back and say we could have won it a lot easier than that,” he said.

“It was what we were doing well in UAE in the qualifiers, it’s a good start and there was no big hitting, so we’ve got to continue in that vein.”

He praised the team for largely following his instructions.

“Everybody’s understanding their role and what needs to happen when they come in to bat. [Andrew Poynter] did well. He kept the scoring rate up and put us in a position to win comfortably. Ed [Joyce] was the one to finish and he got a good bowl but that’s how it is.”

And while it was an important win, Simmons said they wouldn’t be getting carried away with the result.

“There’s a whole tournament to come. We know that the first game is the hardest, so that’s why there were a little more nerves and hopefully we can relax tomorrow and be more ourselves on the field on Wednesday.”

William Porterfield echoed his coach’s sentiments, saying that the team cannot afford to be lax in light of one positive result.

“It’s a great start, but there are three games in the group and we know how dangerous UAE can be.

“We played two games against them in the qualifiers and they were really good games, so that’s our next big test.

“We knew it was going to be a big game against Zimbabwe, as whoever goes through the group has to win three games.”

Porterfield also explained that they were not thinking of themselves as underdogs in the lead up to games.

“As a collective unit, we’ve put the pressure on ourselves to come here and win three games. Who we’re playing against or anything else other than that is speculation, and we won’t be underestimating anyone.”

He commended their opponents for the resilience they showed and said they hadn’t thought much about the prospect of a Super Over.

“You got to give credit to the way Zimbabwe bowled, they put us under pressure and got crucial wickets.

“We hadn’t talked much about the Super Over until about two balls to go. So we had started to think about it then.

“We have to keep the momentum going. There are always areas where you can improve whether you win, lose or draw, so we’ll review this game like we do any other.”

He also paid tribute to the fans, who supported the team vociferously throughout the game.

“I think it’s a fantastic stadium and it was a great crowd that turned out. I’d like to think some of them were Irish and I’d like to thank the Bangladeshis for supporting us. If we can get big crowds for every game, it’s going to be fantastic, as that’s what we want to play in front of and hopefully we can keep entertaining them.”

Porterfield’s teammate Paul Stirling added that the manner of the victory was less than ideal, but said they were happy to get the win regardless.

“It would have been nice to make a big score and really finish the game off. In the middle, we had to keep being positive.

“I could have gone on and made a bigger score to kill the game, but at the minute, I’m just glad that the lads took us home.”

He also vowed that this near-collapse would not affect Ireland for the remainder of the tournament, while brushing aside compliments about his own eye-catching display in which he struck an impressive half century.

“It’s a fresh day and a fresh stadium and you just clear your mind and start the World Cup as fresh as you can. It might be someone else’s day on Friday — it doesn’t bother me so long as we win.”

Superb Ireland overcome Zimbabwe in Cricket World Cup opener after late drama>

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