Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie has admitted that playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) is a huge ambition for a number of players from the country. He described the tournament as the pinnacle of T20 cricket.
Ireland are all set to face India in a two-match T20I series in Dublin, which will be played on June 26 and June 28.
Speaking ahead of the series, the Ireland skipper asserted that playing in T20 leagues like the IPL helps players develop their skills swiftly. He told TOI:
“We have a number of players who are good at the T20 format. We are all aware how competitive it is to get into the IPL. That’s a huge ambition for a lot of us. That’s the pinnacle of T20 cricket.
“You see how quickly certain players develop when they get access to the league. We have a number of players who play in different leagues but not the IPL. When they come back to the Irish team, they bring a lot of experience and learning.”
Ireland legend Paul Stirling is at No. 5 in the all-time list of leading run-getters in T20I cricket. In 102 matches, he has smashed 2776 runs at an average of 29.84 and a strike rate of 134.69 with one hundred and 20 half-centuries to his name.
“Lot of players in Indian T20 side are looking for a spot in the full-strength team” – Ireland captain Balbirnie
Speaking about the challenge of facing India in the two T20Is, Balbirnie described the short series as a huge occasion for Ireland. At the same time, he pointed out that the Indian players will also be under pressure since many are looking to seal their spot in the main playing XI. Balbirnie elaborated:
“They (India) have such a number of experienced players in the T20 format. They have a squad in England for the Test match and then there’s a squad that’s coming down to Ireland to play us in T20s. They are all looking to impress. There are a lot of players in this Indian T20 side who are looking for a spot in the full-strength team. So, they will be under pressure also.”
On having to depend on big teams touring the UK for their international matches, the Ireland captain explained:
“It’s great to play them (India) in Dublin. Cricket is still a developing sport in Ireland. To play such big teams in Dublin and Belfast helps in the growth of the sport in the country. Naturally, as cricketers we would want to travel. I wasn’t a part of the 2011 World Cup in India but the guys who were say it was the greatest experience. We have a 50-over WC to qualify next year.”
While the Indian T20 squad will take on Ireland in two matches, the Test squad will face England in the rescheduled Test in Birmingham from July 1. This will be followed by three T20Is and an equal number of ODIs.
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