O'Brien hopes to make it count at ICC World T20 Qualifier

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 10:02 AM

O'Brien hopes to make it count at ICC World T20 Qualifier
Kevin O'Brien
It is exactly a year today (2 March) since Ireland's Kevin O'Brien slammed a breathtaking 113 off 63 balls to turn the tables on England in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.

On that day in Bengaluru, Kevin O'Brien revived Ireland's chase of England's total of 327-8 with his knock which featured 13 boundaries and six sixes. O'Brien's knock helped Ireland beat England for the first time.

A year on, O'Brien is still reliving those heady moments.

"That match brings back great memories. It is simply brilliant. When I look back at that game it was a great day for Irish cricket and for me personally," recalled O'Brien.

The knock helped O'Brien in a big way as he became a household name shortly thereafter and reaped rich rewards for it.

"I got a contract with Gloucestershire thereafter. I was also nominated for a few awards back home and my profile was raised in India. So it was great for me in every sense," revealed O'Brien.

But a year on, O'Brien is hoping that Ireland continues to build on the gains made on that eventful night in Bengaluru.

Currently, O'Brien is training with the rest of the Ireland squad to prepare for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 13-24 March.

O'Brien and his teammates are training in Port Elizabeth, South Africa to prepare for the tournament.

Ireland is placed in Group B of the 16-team tournament alongside Kenya, Scotland, Namibia, Uganda, Oman, Italy and USA. Only two teams can qualify for the main event scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka from 18 September-7 October.

"It is a big tournament and a very difficult competition since only two teams can qualify. The boys are full of confidence. We are at our best when we are enjoying ourselves. We are confident of our abilities and back ourselves to win the tournament," said O'Brien.

The Ireland squad is expected to be in Port Elizabeth till 8 March.

"We have been training hard for the last few days during both morning and afternoon. We have at least four-five days of training to do before we head to UAE. It has been a good exercise. Now we need to start the tournament well," reckoned O'Brien.

Ireland had qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 2010 in West Indies through the last qualifier held in UAE.

O'Brien believes Ireland has come a long way since the ICC World Twenty20 2010 mainly because of the fact that the squad has gained a lot more exposure and experience.

"Most of our boys have gained experience playing twenty20 cricket in England. We are generally more experienced than the last time. We know our game well now," opined O'Brien.

Ireland's biggest strength, according to O'Brien, is the presence of a number of seam bowling all-rounders.

"Twenty20 cricket is about all-rounders. We have four-five all-rounders who bowl seam-up and also there are some good spinners who can bat well. So we have a good balance in the set-up since twenty20 cricket is a game that can change in one ball," said O'Brien.

Apart from the camp, O'Brien and his teammates kept a close eye on the recent T20 series between Pakistan and England held in the UAE.

"We had one eye on the series (Pakistan v England). The scores have not been high with 140 proving to be a winning total. Even during the last ICC World Twenty20 qualifier in 2010, 140 was a winning score in Dubai, maybe Abu Dhabi affords a bit more. So we will have to get as many runs as we can to qualify," concluded O'Brien

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