Stirling still hopeful of retaining Intercontinental Cup title

ICC Media Release
Sun, Aug 29, 2010 8:04 PM

Stirling still hopeful of retaining Intercontinental Cup title
Ireland opening batsman Paul Stirling believes victory in the ICC Intercontinental Cup would give his side the perfect boost ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.

Stirling's side heads into the match against Canada in Toronto (from 31 August to 3 September) knowing it needs to win the game outright if it is to stand any chance of qualifying for November's final of the event to be played in Dubai.

"Winning the ICC Intercontinental Cup again would definitely increase the confidence even more. It's going to be tricky to get there but we are going to give it our best shot and hopefully we can go and win," said Stirling.

"It is something I definitely want to do as I missed out on the last one and would love to be able to go and win it in Dubai."

Ireland, which has won the past three editions of the ICC Intercontinental Cup, goes into the match against Canada in fifth position on the table, 45 points behind leader Afghanistan, although it does have one game in hand.

"We are looking forward to it immensely. We obviously need to win it and get full points out of the match against Canada if we are going to stand any chance of going on to get into the final of the competition," said Stirling.

"It is a big match and hopefully we will go out there and perform and get the points that we need We go out in every game and play the same way, whether that extra pressure is on or not. We don't put that pressure on ourselves and we know if we go and perform on each of the four days to the best of our abilities then we will win," he said.

"We have a very strong squad and very strong depth in our squad. We have players who can step up and perform at first-class level If rain hadn't come and scuppered our chances in a couple of the games then we would have had a better chance of qualifying and it would have been an easier route to the final."

Ireland will be missing Alex Cusack through injury, while William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin and Gary Wilson are all on county duty in England. However, the team will be led by the inspirational Trent Johnston and the side is boosted by the return of Andre Botha, who has recovered from a stress fracture, and Phil Eaglestone, who is back to fitness following a side strain.

Beaten finalist in 2004 and 2007 Canada currently sits bottom of the ICC Intercontinental Cup table but is boosted by the news that captain Ashish Bagai has recovered from a knee injury, while Zubin Surkari has recovered from a hamstring injury.

Although Canada stands no chance of making the final for a third time, opening bowler Umar Bhatti is determined that his side returns to winning ways after a disappointing ICC World Cricket League Division 1 campaign in July.

"I love playing in the Intercontinental Cup as I love playing four-day games. It has certainly made me a stronger player. If you are a bowler you have to bowl 25-30 overs in an innings and if you are a batsman you have to bat for a session. It takes your game to a whole new level in terms of the mental aspect of the game," said Bhatti.

"It has been a disappointing campaign so far, especially as we have been in the finals in the past. We are determined to win this game. In terms of standings we still want to finish as high as we can so that when we start the next campaign we have something to build on.

"It is a huge game for us and it's the same for Ireland. They are trying to make the final so we want to make sure they don't get there."

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