CRICKET

T20 World Cup: Ireland relishing Australia clash – Andrew Balbirnie

Date: 31 October Time: 08:00 BST Venue: Brisbane Cricket Ground
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary with clips on BBC Sport website & app

Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie says Monday’s crunch T20 World Cup encounter with defending champions Australia is “something pretty special”.

Both teams have three points from three Super 12 games and a defeat could end hopes of making the semi-finals.

“We certainly have that belief in our group that we can beat them, but we know we’ll have to be very good on the day,” said Balbirnie.

“I know the group are pretty excited about that challenge.”

Balbirnie starred with a superb 62 in Ireland’s stunning five-run victory over England in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Ireland’s game against Afghanistan and the match between Australia and England were washed out on Friday as rain fell at the MCG.

Following pacesetters New Zealand’s win over Sri Lanka on Saturday, Ireland sit third and Australia fourth in a tight Group One as they prepare for their penultimate game with only the top two going through to the semis.

Ireland end their group campaign against New Zealand on Friday, while Australia take on Afghanistan, with both matches in Adelaide.

“Playing the world champions in their own backyard is something pretty special,” Balbirnie said.

“Each game brings its own challenge, and certainly playing the best T20 team as they’re champions up at the Gabba is pretty special.

“I haven’t played them in a T20 international, but we know how good they’ll be.

“It’s certainly getting down to that sort of must-win territory for a lot of teams. Certainly, there will be big pressure on those teams when they play against us. They’ll be expected to beat us, no doubt.

“It’s kind of a nice way to go into a game. You can play with a bit more freedom. They’re under a lot of pressure and it will be all to play for, for all the teams next week at the Gabba and then down to Adelaide.

“So it’s exciting, getting to go to the Gabba and the Adelaide Oval in potentially games that could progress you into the semi-finals all going well. But certainly, the first task is to have a good crack at the Aussies.”

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