T20 World Cup: Ireland have belief they can reach semi-finals, says captain Andy Balbirnie | Cricket News

Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie insists there is belief within his team that they can build on their victory over England and book a shock appearance in the T20 World Cup semi-finals.

Balbirnie’s side bounced back from being thrashed by Sri Lanka in their opening Super 12s fixture by upsetting England in a rain-affected game on Wednesday, although were unable to enjoy further success on Friday when their game against Afghanistan was abandoned without any play.

Persistent rain on an already saturated pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground left both teams having to settle for a point apiece after the no-result, moving Ireland to three points with two rounds of group fixtures remaining.

Ireland face tournament hosts and defending champions Australia at the Gabba on Monday, ahead of their group finale against New Zealand in Adelaide on November 4, with victories likely to be required against both teams if they’re to reach the semi-finals for the first time.

“We certainly believe we can (qualify),” Balbirnie said. “Our result on Wednesday (against England) backs that belief. We didn’t play our best cricket and we still managed to beat a team as good as England so that was positive.

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“I wouldn’t want to be part of a group that didn’t think that (Ireland could reach the semis), that would certainly be a bad environment to be a part of.

“The world champions in their own backward is something pretty special. They’ll be expected to beat us, no doubt. That’s kind of a nice way to go into the game, you can play with a bit more freedom.

Monday 31st October 7:30am

“We certainly have that belief in our group that we can beat them, we know we’ll have to be very good on the day. I know the group are pretty excited about that challenge.”

Ireland – the second lowest-ranked side in T20s left in the competition – have never beaten either Trans-Tasman side in any format, although rejects that his side have “nothing to lose” against two of the pre-tournament favourites.

“The pressure we have at this stage is if we lose badly, a lot of people will say we don’t deserve to be here and that’s a different kind of pressure,” Balbirnie added.

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“We don’t like using the term free hit because we want to go out and play, even if it’s the first or second round, we want to go out and play, we want to play a certain way.

“We have as much to lose in this tournament. I can understand why people say that but, from our point of view, we feel on a level playing field when we take the field and we have to perform that way too.”

Watch Australia vs Ireland on Monday live on Sky Sports Cricket. Build-up begins at 7.30am ahead of an 8am start at the Gabba.

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