There will be a lot of questions after Ireland’s loss to Zimbabwe in their opening game by 31 runs. Like why did they bat first when evidence suggested the team batting first at Hobart wins most of the time?
Why did they continue to feed Sikandar Raza during his masterful 82 with short pitched bowling when he seemed quite comfortable against it? At key moments why were several boundary riders 5-10 yards in? Could they have tried George Dockrell with his left arm finger spin to break things up?
There’s probably answers to all of these. Short pitched deliveries had worked quite well against Zimbabwe’s top order. However it disappeared over the rope when Raza knew what was coming and could adjust accordingly.
Ireland may feel slightly aggrieved after all this. They had done much of the hard work with Zimbabwe 79-4, but Raza is currently in the form of his life, and certainly making it count. But how much of this was down to Raza just having a good day?
If Ireland somehow reach the next round, they will face many more talented batters who may come off and have their moment in the Australian sun. So can Ireland change their plans for when a Raza is having their day to find a way to compete?
Irish captain Andrew Balbirnie was asked by Ian Bishop in the post-match interview if he’d reconsider bowling again having won the toss. The skipper replied he’d do the same again and also that they were happy chasing 175 to win.
But Zimbabwe would have definitely been the much happier side at the halfway point. Certainly with what they knew about teams batting first.
It’s fine to be determined, and not wanting to give anything away. But it’s also fine to be wrong, and to be flexible. Being wrong may even be the first step of moving from plan A to B, even to C. And T20 requires options.
Can Ireland roll with the punches, and adapt to all the challenges put in front of them for their remaining fixtures? And after a major setback like this can Ireland get back on track? They have just two games to answer these and more.
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