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Ireland's Joshua Little celebrates the dismissal of New Zealand's James Neesham during the T20 World Cup against New Zealand. Image Credit: ICC Twitter

Melbourne: Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie said his team needed regular opportunities against top teams in order to improve after ending their T20 World Cup campaign with a defeat by New Zealand in Adelaide on Friday.

Qualifiers Ireland sent shockwaves when they beat tournament favourites England in a rain-hit Super 12 match but could not register another win in Group 1, and finished with just three points from five matches.

Paceman Josh Little claimed a hat-trick on Friday but it was not enough to avoid a 35-run defeat by New Zealand at the Adelaide Oval.

“There’s a couple of moments in the last games where you thought what if, but at the same time, we’re still a bit away from these top teams,” Balbirnie said in his assessment of their performance in the tournament.

A big bonus

“We need to keep improving and playing regular cricket against them so we can improve and expand our squad as much as we can.

“We have guys who are ready to come in whenever they get the opportunity.

“At the start of the tournament, I said getting to the Super 12s would be a bonus. That’s our aim. It will be deemed successful.

“We’ve played some pretty good cricket, and it’s just a shame that we couldn’t create something really special.”

It was still some improvement for the side, who could not make the Super 12 last year.

Change in mindset

Balbirnie said hard work and a change in mindset helped them grow better, a trend they want to continue.

“We’re by no means the finished article, but we certainly are a better team than we were 12 months ago, and that’s all you can ask,” the opener said.

“Hopefully, in a month’s time, we’ll be even better than we are now.”