Former England international Graeme Swann says Ireland can beat next opponents South Africa and are in an “enviable position” after winning their first two World Cup Group B games.
Swann believes Phil Simmons’ side should now channel all their focus on the Proteas, rather than looking further ahead to expectedly more-winnable clash against Zimbabwe.
With two wins out of two following today’s two-wicket World Cup win over UAE, a tough game approaches on Tuesday against one of the pre-tournament favourites, with Zimbabwe coming four days after that – one of the games Ireland would have been targeting to get to the quarter-finals.
“Ireland are in a very enviable position. I'm sure a lot of teams would like to be where they are,” Swann told RTÉ Sport’s John Kenny in Brisbane.
“If I were Ireland, I wouldn't be targeting the Zimbabwe game. I'd be targeting South Africa.
“South Africa have just come off a very heavy defeat to India… Ireland have shown they can chase 280 or 300.
“If South Africa don't put on a good batting display, if AB De Villiers isn't in the sort of knick that he has been before, and they only manage 250 or 260, Ireland should say that 'If we win this game we're in the quarter-finals'.”
The two-time Ashes winner added: “I wouldn't even think of Zimbabwe. I would think, ‘How are we going to beat South Africa?’.”
Despite at one stage looking in deep trouble against the UAE, Ireland rallied to get over the finishing line with four balls to spare, and Swann still expects the win to act as a huge confidence booster going into the South Africa game in Canberra next week.
“Certainly after winning two games, and knowing the lads in the Irish dressing-room, there'll certainly be people in there who think yeah we can beat South Africa,” said Swann. “I'm sure Niall O'Brien will be. For me now, that is a great game of cricket to watch.
“I'm really interested to see how they get on. I reckon they can turn them over.”