Eyes on the knockouts for Ireland
March 7, 2015
Start time 1430 local (0330 GMT)
Thirteen venues have been used so far in this tournament. On Saturday the fourteenth and final ground makes its 2015 World Cup debut: Bellerive Oval in Hobart. And it does so in an important match for the makeup of the Pool B table. This is Zimbabwe's penultimate pool game and their last match is against India; with only one win so far, their chances of making it to the knockouts are very slim. Victory here is essential, and their chances have not been helped by a quadriceps tear suffered by captain Elton Chigumbura. Brendan Taylor will lead the side in Chigumbura's absence.
Ireland, on the other hand, have a fully fit squad, two wins already and an extra game in hand. They too must still face India, before finishing their pool campaign against Pakistan. Victory against Zimbabwe would give them a good chance of progressing, although it might still come down to their last game. The only other time these teams met in a World Cup match they played out a thrilling tie in Jamaica in 2007, which contributed to Ireland memorably qualifying for the Super Eights. Remarkably, they have not played each other in an ODI for four and a half years.
Ireland must hope their confidence has not been knocked too much by their 201-run loss to South Africa in Canberra. Captain William Porterfield cut a composed figure on the eve of this game, quietly confident that the mood in his camp had not dropped after the heavy defeat. Ireland at least have already beaten a Full Member in this tournament - West Indies - whereas Zimbabwe's only win came against UAE.
Ireland LWWLW (last five matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
When Ireland last met Zimbabwe in a full international, it was Paul Stirling who delivered victory for his team. The format and venue were both very different - it was in Bangladesh at last year's World T20 - but Stirling's 60 off 34 balls will be remembered by a similar Zimbabwe attack this time around. He has failed in his two most recent innings in this World Cup, but started with 92 in the win over West Indies.
Zimbabwe's leading run scorer so far in this World Cup is Sean Williams, thanks to 76 against West Indies and an unbeaten 76 that set up victory against UAE in Nelson. The lack of runs from much of the Zimbabwe top order has made Williams an important man in their campaign. He also top scored with 74 last time they met Ireland in an ODI, albeit that was in 2010.
Porterfield kept his cards close to his chest on the eve of the match, other than confirming Ireland had a fully fit squad from which to choose.
Ireland (possible) 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Ed Joyce, 4 Niall O'Brien, 5 Andy Balbirnie, 6 Gary Wilson (wk), 7 Kevin O'Brien, 8 John Mooney, 9 George Dockrell, 10 Max Sorensen, 11 Andy McBrine.
Chigumbura's injury means a recall for Regis Chakabva, who has struggled for batting form in his two appearances in the tournament. That is the only change to the Zimbabwe XI.
Zimbabwe 1 Chamu Chibhabha, 2 Sikandar Raza, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor (capt & wk), 5 Sean Williams, 6 Craig Ervine, 7 Regis Chakabva, 8 Solomon Mire, 9 Tawanda Mupariwa, 10 Tinashe Panyangara, 11 Tendai Chatara.
Pitch and conditions
The forecast for Saturday is for a top temperature of 20C and a slight chance of a shower.
In the only Hobart ODI so far this summer, England scored 303 for 8 and Australia chased the target down in the 50th over. There should again be plenty of runs in the pitch and some carry and bounce.
Stats and trivia
These teams have met in five completed ODIs - Ireland have won one, Zimbabwe three and there has been one tie
Should Ireland win it would be their third victory of the tournament, which would make this their most successful World Cup campaign ever
Brendan Taylor enters the game only one run short of 5000 in ODIs; he would be the fourth Zimbabwean to the milestone after Andy Flower, Grant Flower and Alistair Campbell
"Everything is in our hands in terms of wins. Tomorrow is no different."
William Porterfield is not yet worrying about net run rates
"We've been playing some good cricket, 80% of the games we've been playing winning cricket and then probably just letting it slip in that other 20%."
Brendan Taylor, the stand-in captain of Zimbabwe