‘IPL Pinnacle of T20 Cricket, a Huge Ambition For a Lot of Us’: Ireland Captain Andrew Balbirnie

An India T20I team will be in Ireland for two matches, a chance for the hosts to make an impression since several first-choice stars are not part of the touring party. Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie feels that the tourists will be under pressure as well since their squad comprises several young players and few who are on the fringes to make a strong case with the T20 World Cup just a few months away now.

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Balbirnie termed playing India at home ‘a huge occasion’ for Ireland.

“It’s a huge occasion for us,” Balbirnie told The Times of India. “They have such a number of experienced players in 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. We play NZ in a few weeks. With the T20 WC coming in October, there are a lot of players who want to stake a claim for that. So there’s opportunity for players on both sides.”

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Balbirnie says playing in the popular Indian Premier League remains a big ambition for a lot of Irish cricketers since it’s become the pinnacle of T20 cricket. Additionally, playing in such leagues only benefits players as they become better with the experience.

“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,” he said.

While cricket still remains a developing sport in Ireland, Balbirinie hopes his team gets to travel more and play in overseas conditions against strong teams.

“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,” he said.

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