Ireland will be featuring in their third World Cup, but they have earned the right to no longer be called pushovers. With their enthusiasm and never say die spirit, they have lit up the World Cup in the last two editions. Mind you, they have got some genuine talent as well. A World Cup journey, which began with a memorable tie against Zimbabwe, followed by the shock upset against Pakistan, went many notches ahead when they got the better of England in 2011 edition. Like in 2007 in the West Indies and 2011 in India, they would be keen to pull off an upset in Australia and New Zealand as well.
Ireland's chances of doing well will be heavily dependent on their batsmen. Their bowling has been severely dented with the retirement of all-rounder Trent Johnston and the fact that their best bowler Boyd Rankin has moved on to play for England. Of course, another Irishman, Eoin Morgan, will be captaining England in this year's edition, but Ireland haven't really felt his absence since he did not perform all that well while with the Ireland side. In their group, they would be disappointed if they don't beat Ireland and Zimbabwe. And considering how weak West Indies are, an upset could be in store here as well.
Kevin O'Brien: Few Ireland players have generated as much excitement in international cricket as Kevin. Even after four years his gruesome assault on the English bowlers is fresh in the mind. Much like Virender Sehwag, Kevin can destroy bowling opponents if it is his day. What Ireland need from him is better consistency. If he can get the big scores in two to three matches, Ireland can put the opposition under serious trouble.
Ed Joyce: While Morgan has moved to England, Joyce has chosen to play for Ireland after failing to establish himself in the England team. The left-hander has accomplished a place for himself as one of the most important members of the Irish outfit. He had an excellent country season in 2014 averaging 67, and has been in brilliant form in ODIs over the last couple of years. Ireland would depend on his experience in the batting department.
William Porterfield: The Ireland captain will be opening the innings, and his major responsibility will be to give the side assured starts. Unlike some of the other strokemakers, he is more subdued, so he can play around the big-hitters, and complement them. His leadership skills will also be tested again.
George Dockrell: He is one of the most important members in the bowling attack. Considering how raw they are in this department, the 22-year-old left-arm spinner offers much needed variety from monotony of medium pace in the attack. He has already played 42 ODIs and his county experience should come in handy.
Squad: William Porterfield (Capt), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Andrew McBrine, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien (wkt), Paul Stirling, Max Sorensen, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young
February 16 vs West Indies at Nelson
February 25 vs UAE at Brisbane
March 3 vs South Africa at Canberra
March 7 vs Zimbabwe at Hobart
March 10 vs India at Hamilton
March 15 vs Pakistan at Adelaide
--By A Cricket Analyst