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October 20, 2021

Andrew Balbirnie

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Sheikh Zayed Stadium


Post Match Media Conference

Sri Lanka 171/7, Ireland 101

Q. Commiserations today. Obviously you let them off the hook really. A very good start, but 171 unfortunately just was beyond you. Did you think at the halfway point that you could do it?

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: Yeah, a hundred per cent. We thought it was probably around par, maybe just a bit more. It was a pretty good wicket. It got better as their innings got on, I thought.

Those two or three overs up top -- we thought it was in and around par, but obviously when you get the made for three, it was disappointing that they got away from us a little bit, but they're good players, and that's kind of what you expect when you come up against good teams.

We maybe could have bowled a bit better to the new men up top, but you've got to give them credit. But certainly at the halfway stage, we knew if we batted well we'd be there or thereabouts, but we couldn't really get going with the bat, and it's disappointing, but it makes Friday very simple.

Q. What about some of the field placements today? Hasaranga certainly punished you on the offside. It was quite a large gap between the two fielders out there. He certainly pumped Simi Singh down to that area. Do you think you maybe could have blocked that area as the game was going on, especially when Singh was bowling?

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: Potentially, yeah, it was in the powerplay so you can only have two fielders outside the ring, and Simi wanted to bowl to long on and carry corner, and I backed him. Unfortunately, he played really well, but it's always difficult in the powerplay to bowl with only two men out, but yeah, that's the way it is.

Q. I know today's game is behind you now and you've obviously got the important win against the Dutch. Is it always in the back of your mind that Friday would have been the game?

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: We certainly wanted to come in and win today and potentially put Friday not in the back of our minds but you want to win all the games, but we came up against a really good Sri Lanka team today and certainly our attention is turning fully on Friday, which becomes pretty much a straight knockout.

Q. From your own point of view, you got a few runs. You haven't really been in form the last couple of innings but at least you got a 41 today. That must have pleased you even though it was in a losing cause.

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: Yeah, it was nice to spend time in the middle. It was obviously difficult up front. I would have liked to have gone at a better rate, but with the small boundary on one side we always felt that we were in the game, but like I said, we couldn't really just get anything going with the bat on a pretty good wicket.

But that's a good Sri Lankan bowling attack. They've got two good spinners and some good pace up front. Yeah, that's the way it goes, and hopefully I can continue on Friday and get a few runs.

Q. What about the heat out there? It seems pretty stifling. Even the Sri Lanka players who might be a bit more used to it were finding difficulty with the heat.

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: Yeah, it's hot, but it's been hot since day one, and we're fully aware of that. We've just got to get on with it and adapt as quick as possible. It was our first night game since we've arrived. We didn't get a night game in the warmup games, but it certainly was muggy, and you could tell that from the TV, I'm sure, but yeah, it's not going to get any cooler I don't think.

Q. The decision to pick Craig Young today, he kind of backed you up there did he? Safe to say he was very economical today?

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: Yeah, he bowled well, but he's been bowling well for a while now. The other day we just felt that a legspinner could have given us another option. Today's game under lights obviously skids on a bit more. We thought we could bring in the extra seamer.

Obviously you saw the Sri Lankan team play spin pretty well, so that kind of shows the depth of our seam attack that Craig came in and took to it straightaway and was really impressive. He can certainly take a lot of confidence from that.

Q. You mentioned there like that's quite a good Sri Lankan attack, probably a lot better than a lot of people have given them credit for coming into the tournament. That kind of like pace trio that they had, the quality of particularly the short ball, how is that something you prepare for when maybe it's not something you play against as regularly in domestic cricket?

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: Yeah, we don't prepare for it. We don't get wickets like this. We don't get pace like that too often back home. Certainly club cricket, club grounds around the countries, unfortunately can't really get wickets like that, but look, the more we go up the levels, and if we go well on Friday next week, it's only going to get quicker, and we've got to adapt quickly.

Again, like I said, they were quite skiddy, the bowlers, so they bowled good short balls, but that's what you expect in international cricket. We've got to find ways to cope with that and pretty quickly.

Q. Maybe sum up the game for me, particularly the Sri Lankan bowling just took that total down?

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: Yeah, basically what I've said already. They batted pretty well, and we got a few wickets early. We had our tails up, but they kind of took the game away from us in the middle. I thought we came back pretty well, as well, and got them to a score that we felt we could get and we felt that was maybe a par, maybe just above par, but certainly our batting just didn't really get any momentum. I scored 40-odd and it took me quite a few balls. I still found it tricky enough.

But yeah, they're a good team, and they deserve to go through. But certainly we'll be eyeing up the second spot on Friday.

Q. And you were impressed obviously by Namibia's performance this morning?

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: Yeah, we only really caught the back end of it when we arrived to the ground for this game, but yeah, look, they played pretty well. We know they're threats and we know they're a good team. They ran us pretty close in the qualifiers a couple years ago, and it's going to be a really good game, two good teams gunning for a huge prize at the end of it.

We'll have a rest day tomorrow and come out to Sharjah on Friday, and look forward to the challenge.

Q. Just wondered if you could elaborate, you mentioned that you're looking to adapt to the pace of the bowling, especially looking forward to the tournament hopefully to get through to the next round. You're going to have plenty more of that. What can you do in kind of a short space of time? You haven't faced too much of that bowling before to adapt to that kind of bowling.

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: Yeah, look, there's obviously not a lot we can do. We're perfectly capable of playing quick bowling. I'm not saying we're not. We've played some of the quickest bowlers in the summer back home against South Africa and we did pretty well.

It's slightly different out here. It's sort of skiddier to what we'd be used to, but particularly under the lights it obviously skids on, but I love that challenge and I think a lot of our batters do, getting out there and facing the battle and having balls zinging past your head. That's what you want to do; that's the battle you want to be in. Look, we're not going to be able to change that over the course of hopefully a week if we do qualify.

We've just got to back our skills and take it head on and take the challenge on and not shy away from it. That's obviously a mental thing rather than a kind of technical thing that you can pick up, but I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We've got a huge game on Friday, and we've got to prepare as best we can for that.

Q. Graham Ford has spent a lot of time in Colombo. Was he able to give a lot of insight on the opposition?

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: No, no info, no. He obviously knows a lot of their guys pretty well, and he knows how they go about their business. We spent a lot of time looking at footage of them and chatting to the coaches about them. We knew they're threats. We weren't really able to deal with them as well as we would have liked, but certainly having Fordy's insight how they go about things helped in our prep, but like I said, we didn't really put in a performance that we can be that proud of, but luckily we've got another shot on Friday to amend this result.

Q. I'm pretty sure that you had very good plans for the Sri Lankan top order batters. Did you consider Hasaranga as a batter? You made some plans for him?

ANDREW BALBIRNIE: Yeah, he obviously took us a bit by surprise by coming in, and look, I thought he played really well. We obviously set fields that we've backed over a couple of years, and he kind of countered that and maybe caught us in the hop a bit, but that's what happens when you play against world-class cricketers. They can do that to you.

We maybe just weren't on the money from that sort of third over in the powerplay, fourth over in the powerplay. But that happens, and yeah, I think we're still doing the right things and going through the right processes. One more big performance on Friday, and hopefully we can have a good end to the week.

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