Cricket World Cup: England confident despite Irish defeat

South Africa's AB de Villiers bats during their ICC Cricket World Cup match against Netherlands. PIC: PA
South Africa's AB de Villiers bats during their ICC Cricket World Cup match against Netherlands. PIC: PA
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England are confident they can still win the World Cup, despite succumbing to Kevin O’Brien’s brilliance as Ireland inflicted one of the biggest shock defeats in the tournament’s history.

Andrew Strauss’ team suffered a demoralising setback against the Irish on Wednesday, and will surely need to show dramatic improvement if they are to be competitive in their next Group B match against table-toppers South Africa on Sunday.

Yet Graeme Swann insists he and his team-mates, already Ashes winners this winter, are made of stern enough stuff to turn their campaign around in pursuit of England’s maiden success in this 36-year-old competition.

The off-spinner’s 3-47 at Bangalore’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium were conspicuously the most respectable figures, by the time O’Brien had plundered the tournament’s fastest hundred on the way to its biggest ever successful run chase.

“If we are going to win this World Cup – which we truly believe we can -– we’ve got to go out and prove it, and we do that first and foremost in the field,” said Swann, rightly identifying dropped catches as one of England’s most worrying problems.

Asked if he thinks Ireland might have dealt a telling blow to England’s prospects, he replied: “I don’t think so.

“Four or five days ago, the whole world was saying ‘Oh my God, England can win this’ – because we didn’t get destroyed by that invincible Indian team.”

“I don’t think it’s a massive challenge now – it’s one game and it’s done and dusted.

“A couple of catches that went down cost us the game, coupled with something you could describe as wayward bowling.”

England failed collectively to tame not just O’Brien but lower-order partners Alex Cusack and John Mooney as Ireland’s unlikely recovery carried them from 111-5 to 329-7 – with five balls to spare.

“It’s annoying in the extreme, but I’m not taking anything away from Kevin O’Brien and the performance of his life,” said Swann. “It’s the best knock I’ve seen in a long time.”

“It’s not all doom and gloom, like everyone is saying.

“If a guy gets 100 off 60 balls, a guy gets 100 off 60 balls.

“There’s not a lot you can do, except say we should have bowled differently – and in the next game we will do.

lShahid Afridi picked up his second five-wicket haul of the World Cup as Pakistan secured a surprisingly hard-fought 46-run victory against Canada at Colombo ensured Pakistan went top of Group A.

Meanwhile, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla hit majestic centuries to lead South Africa to a crushing 231-run triumph over Holland in their World Cup Group B match in Mohali.

De Villiers scored 134 off 98 balls and Amla 113 off 130 as their 221-run stand for the third wicket helped the Proteas to an imposing total of 351-5.

The minnows then surrendered without any fight, dismissed for 120 inside 35 overs with Imran Tahir picking up 3-19.

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