George Dockrell picked three wickets against West Indies, to help Ireland to victory © Getty Images
George Dockrell picked three wickets against West Indies, to help Ireland to victory © Getty Images

The 22-year-old George Dockrell is one of Ireland’s most important players in their ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 campaign. At a young age, the left-arm spinner has show great maturity and has made a name for himself in the last few years. As Ireland prepared to meet India, Nishad Pai Vaidya caught up with Dockrell and spoke to him about dismissing Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni, playing India, the challenge of bowling in today’s one-day game and a lot more.

During the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 clash between India and Ireland at Bangalore, the hosts had a tough time in chasing a relatively modest total. Ireland left no stone unturned in giving India a few nervous moments during their run-chase of 208. Perhaps, the most compelling spell came from an 18-year-old, who snared the big wickets of Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni. George Dockrell impressed with his tight bowling against a reputed batting line-up. Showing maturity way beyond his years, Dockrell foxed Tendulkar to get him out leg-before for 38 and had Dhoni for 34. However, Yusuf Pathan smashed him at the end to spoil his figures, which still read a decent 10-0-49-2.

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Looking back at that day in Bangalore, Dockrell has cherished memories and shares it with a smile. “It was huge. I was really happy with the way I bowled in that game. To get (Sachin) Tendulkar and (MS) Dhoni out was massive for me. Yusuf (Pathan) coming hard at me in the last few overs was a great learning curve. I hadn’t probably bowled as many overs at the back-end like that with the batsman who was looking to get boundaries. It is something I learnt a lot from,” he says. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: POINTS TABLE

Now 22-years-old, Dockrell is an important cog in the Ireland unit at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. At the age of 20, he won the ICC Associate Cricketer of the Year in 2012. The youngster has grown in the last four years to become one of the most economical bowlers going around. In One-Day Internationals (ODIs), he has an economy rate of 4.35, and it is 6.21 in T20 Internationals (T20Is). It isn’t only his parsimonious bowling, but his wicket-taking ability also adds to the side. “I just keep it simple and try and hit good lengths as possible — be as wary about what the batsman is trying to do. I keep one eye on myself and one eye on the batsman. I keep it simple. When you get too worried about what they are doing, that is when you complicate things,” Dockrell describes his strategy in simple words.

It is a challenge for the spinners, with the new rules coming into play. In the non-powerplay overs, you can have only four fielders in the ring. Dockrell looks at it as a chance as batsmen may be more attacking. He says, “It has been different from the last World Cup. Back then, you could have five men out. There weren’t much field changes. Now, as a spinner, you need to think a lot more about whether you want them to try and sweep you or try to go over the top. There is more analysis now on how they will play you how they will look for a boundary. That is how batsmen look at spinners now, looking to get that one boundary an over. Definitely it adds more chances for spinners as they look for boundaries. There are more chances to get wickets and you need to work with that.” ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: SCHEDULE & MATCH DETAILS

Adapting is the key Dockrell says, “It is definitely a different game than it was four years ago. Scores are getting a lot bigger, the run-rates have crept up. Obviously, it is tough challenge, but you got adapt with that — bowl as many dots and minimise boundaries.” There will be batsmen who will try to go after you. You have to approach it very smartly as Dockrell illustrates, “You need to know the number of go-to balls you can bowl to certain batsmen to get them off strike, which won’t go for a boundary. I think that is a big thing. You need to bowl to your field. That is the key part to bowling. There are times when the batsman is coming at you and you know where they try and hit you. You have to get the right ball in, hit the lengths, so that he cannot do that.”

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In a tense situation, where the batsmen are forced to play big shots, the bowlers may feel under more pressure. In such a situation, they may pre-empt a batsman’s shot, but execution of the delivery is the key for any player. “Yes, you need to be wary and think about what they are trying to do. There are times when the batsman tries to run at you or sweep you, and you can pick a ball which is the best option for that. There are times when you pre-empt. But, obviously, you have to be clinical and still have to execute which is the biggest part of it all,” Dockrell explains.

On Tuesday, Dockrell may face his biggest test at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. The Indian batsmen are known to play spin well. Back in 2011, he troubled them in their own backyard. He is wiser and a lot more experienced this time, but the ground is quite small and the rules have changed. While Dockrell has the respect for his opposition, he has confidence in his own abilities, “You look at a lot of teams we’ve played so far and there are a few top class batsmen. The Indian batting line-up is no different. I think you have to back yourself against the best in the world and if you bowl your best balls, they won’t be able to get them away. The batting line-up is strong, but you have to back yourself to perform to the best of your ability.” ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Complete Coverage

Ireland made the long trip from Hobart and arrived in Hamilton only in the wee hours of Monday. They have been a good side in this tournament and Dockrell says the mood in the camp is good. “It has been brilliant so far — three wins in four games will do that for the confidence going into this game. The guys have had a couple of tough travel days but the guys have got through that very well. It couldn’t be better at the moment,” he concludes.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)