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Quarterfinal spot gives India security against potential Ireland upset at Cricket World Cup

03/09/2015 02:26 EDT | Updated 05/08/2015 05:59 EDT
HAMILTON, New Zealand - Defending champion India has the consolation of knowing it has a quarterfinal place securely booked before it takes on over-achieving Ireland at the Cricket World Cup on Tuesday.

If India's qualification for the knockout stage was still in the balance, the team would likely be far more concerned about its match against Ireland at Seddon Park. But so far, India's progress through Pool B has been untroubled: it is unbeaten in four matches with impressive wins over Pakistan (by 76 runs) and South Africa (by 130 runs).

India also disposed of the United Arab Emirates by nine wickets and the West Indies by four wickets.

Ireland still remains in quarterfinal contention with three wins from five matches in pool play. The Irish struck the first blow of the tournament for second-tier nations when they beat the West Indies by four wickets and then followed that by topping Zimbabwe by five runs in a thriller decided in the final over.

Though Ireland was badly beaten by South Africa and scraped past UAE by two wickets with four balls left, its performances have shown that associate nations can not only hold their own against full members of the International Cricket Council, but also beat them.

India fast bowler Mohit Sharma made it clear that his teammates would go into Tuesday's match expecting a major challenge.

"They played good games earlier, like two or three games, and still, they have a chance to qualify." he said. "They have a good team. We have to play well to beat them, and we'll try to do it."

From Ireland's side, the mindset is equally positive. While some associate nations came to this World Cup with moderate goals of winning a match or two or beating a test-playing nation, Ireland has set its sights much higher.

Ireland has established a giant-killing reputation with wins at previous World Cups over Pakistan, Bangladesh and England, but captain William Porterfield said before Ireland won its opening match against the West Indies this year that such victories should no longer be regarded as major surprises.

"We go into every game (thinking) there is two points up for grabs," Porterfield said. "We've just got to keep all the momentum going and keep on improving at the little things we want to and keep taking things forward.

Porterfield said although India has already qualified for the quarterfinals, he doesn't believe it will put forth a sub-par effort against Ireland.

"They're not going to look to lose any momentum," he said. "We've just got to look to restrict them with the ball and take wickets.

"We've got to go out there with than mentality of taking wickets throughout the 50 overs. Whatever we do first, with the bat or with the ball, we have to start the game well and get into it."

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