Kevin O'Brien of Ireland celebrates with team-mates during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between Zimbabwe and Ireland at Bellerive Oval on March 7, 2015 in Hobart © Getty Images
Kevin O’Brien of Ireland celebrates with team-mates during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between Zimbabwe and Ireland at Bellerive Oval on March 7, 2015 in Hobart © Getty Images

After a promising start to their cricketing year in 2015, Ireland recorded couple of scintillating victories but lost the  momentum towards the end. Nevertheless, Ireland has grown as a cricketing nation. The year started on a high for the country as they registered some fine performances against the likes of Afghanistan and Scotland. They’ve grown as a team and have achieved newer heights but are yet to prove their weight against stronger teams in the circuit. They have the potential and are probably one of the most entertaining sides among the associates, their rise has been irresistible. Suraj Choudhari takes a look at their performances across formats in 2015. READ: Yearender 2015: Top 10 most thrilling ODIs

Ireland, in the recent years, have created major upsets by beating stronger teams on numerous occasions in the World Cup games. One of the major concerns for the team is that they keep losing players to England but this year they saw Boyd Rankin making a comeback into the side after main an exit in 2014.

They’ve inspired immense confidence as an outfit which hails the likes of William Porterfield, Paul Stirling, Niall O’Brien and Kevin O’Brien, and can do a lot better and achieve new milestones in international cricket. READ: 2015 Yearender: Top 10 Test bowlers of the year

The year began for Ireland in the Dubai Triangular series where they won their first two games against Afghanistan and Scotland, but lost their next encounter against Afghanistan. They once again stunned the cricket fraternity when they successfully chased down the mammoth target of 305 with ease in their opening game of the ICC 2015 Cricket World Cup. In five successful chases of 300 and above in the World Cup tournaments, Ireland have accounted for three of them. These wins are not flukes but a sign of a developing cricket nation. All they need is consistency and ability to maintain the momentum.

After a thumping victory against the Caribbean giants, Ireland won their next encounter UAE and looked all set to qualify for the quarter-finals. Their next challenge was against South Africa, who were also one of the favourites for the title. They lost the battle against the Proteas by a massive margin of 201 runs. Ireland now had three games to be played and required two wins to secure a berth in the knock-outs. They won the nail-biting game against Zimbabwe and their hopes of making it to the knock outs were revived but had difficult opponents to be played.

Ireland lost both their fixtures against India and Pakistan but had proportionate points as compared to West Indies but the latter got a nod ahead as their net run rate was slightly better. Ireland would have considered themselves unlucky for not making it to the quarter-finals but took a heart from their performance in the whole tournament. They proved their weight in gold and from here the team can only get better.  Though it was always a difficult job to win against teams like Pakistan, South Africa and India but the underdogs have done a terrific job in their every outing. READ: Yearender 2015: Top 10 debut performances across formats

Later, they took on England but the match didn’t conclude a result due to bad weather. Months after that Australia toured the Irish land for their only ODI which the visitors successfully won by 23 runs (D/L method).

In the month of October, Ireland toured Zimbabwe for a three-match ODI series, they were the favourites going in to the series but it wasn’t to be. They lost the first two games and surrendered the series but made a comeback and earned some glory in the ultimate encounter.

Ireland didn’t enjoy a prolific run in the shortest format of the game in the international circuit but somehow managed to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 (T20) 2016 which will be hosted in India next year. They achieved third place in the 2015 World T20 qualifier and have successfully sculpted a spot in First round of Group A. Ireland will then cross swords with Bangladesh, Netherlands and Oman and the winner of this batch will be roped in by the Group 2. On the contrary, Ed Joyce and Tim Murtagh too called it a day from international T20 cricket to focus on the longer formats of the game.

In their Inter-Continental games this year which is a four-day game, Ireland have done exceptionally well in the longer format. In both the games against UAE and Namibia in June and October respectively, Ireland won by an innings and a margin of few runs. In their Tour match against Zimbabwe A after the ODI series in October, Ireland’s performance in the four-day long game was remarkable.

Ireland are yet to gain a Test status but the good news for the side is that the International Cricket Council (ICC) this year confirmed that they will be granting a Test status in 2019. To achieve so, Ireland should win the 2015-17 ICC Intercontinental Cup and also defeat the 10th ranked Test nation in a four-match Test series in 2018.

While Ireland have shown great potential as an outfit and one can expect them to create some major upsets in the World T20 once again as they have enough gun powder in the cannon to do so.

(Suraj Choudhari is a reporter with Criclife and CricketCountry. He is an avid follower of the game, and plays the sport at club level. He has a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, and tries to express it through paper and pen.)