White ready for Afghanistan challenge

Mon, Feb 8, 2010 10:01 AM

White ready for Afghanistan challenge
Ireland's players visited Dubai British School on Sunday - Nicole Anderson/ICC
Ireland's Andrew White believes his side's opening match against Afghanistan will be crucial in determining whether it can qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 2010.

Ireland, who defeated Afghanistan by five wickets, in a recent Twenty20 match in Colombo, face a fascinating opening day clash against Nowroz Mangal's side at Dubai Sports City on Tuesday in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier.

"We know plenty about Afghanistan - we have played them a few times and they have got the better of us a few times as well. I think if we can win the first one then that will really help get us up and running," said White, speaking at Dubai British School, where he and colleagues from the team delivered a community coaching session on Sunday.

"It was important that we won that match and I think our experience told back in that Twenty20 game in Sri Lanka. I expect them to be a big force to be reckoned with in this tournament and tournaments in the future."

White believes that his side's preparations for the event have gone well, despite losing an ICC Intercontinental Cup match against Afghanistan last month, as well as crashing to T20 defeats to Canada and Sri Lanka A.

"We are in a pretty positive state of mind at the moment and it is going to be a big week for everybody involved. In Twenty20 anything can happen and it will all be about who can perform during the key moments on the day," said White.

"We have put in a lot of hard work and a lot of good practice and we have learned a lot during the last ten weeks when we have been really focusing on Twenty20. If we reach the standards that we expect of ourselves then we should be doing well come Saturday."

"Twenty20 is such a short game so the team that plays the most important moments the best will come out on top. I think we have most areas covered in all aspects of the game and a lot of experience. All the teams will be determined to win one of the two qualifying spots for the Caribbean and it will be a hard fought battle all the way."

White also believes that his side's second match against the USA won't be a straight forward game.

"The last time I played against the USA, in Toronto in 2001 during the ICC Trophy, they beat us and I don't think we have played them since. Unknown quantities can be dangerous but I think if we do our basics well then we should come out on top of our group," he said.

Ireland warmed up for the tournament with an impressive 11-run win over Canada on Sunday, with George Dockrell, fresh from the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup, taking four wickets.

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