Ever since Australia won the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup at the MCG defeating New Zealand, the Aussies have not played a single game in the 50-over format. Australia, who are going to play their first ODI after their historic triumph, will wear their yellow jersey again when they face Ireland in a one-off ODI match at Stormont in Belfast on Thursday.
Australia, who are the world champions, resemble a different unit as compared to the team which won them their fifth World Cup. The Aussies are going to be led by Steve Smith, who will be the key batsmen in their lineup, as the current squad lacks experience in batting.
On the batting front, Smith, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell need to fire on all cylinders, while their bowling lineup looks impressive with James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Coulter-Nile expected to lead the line and trouble the Ireland batsmen.
Though it goes without saying Ireland are second favourites in this one-off ODI, they cannot be taken lightly by Australia. Ireland, who have been playing with the same squad for some time now, will depend on their experienced batsman Ed Joyce to deliver the goods with the bat, while other key players such as Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Paul Stirling also need to stand up against the world champions.
However, they will want their skipper William Porterfield to give them a terrific start at the top of the order. Potterfield was in good touch during the 2015 World Cup, as he scored a century against Pakistan. The O'Brien brothers, who have been performing consistently for Ireland in international cricket, will also be eager to show their worth against the Australians.
Expect the Ireland team to put up a brave fight on Thursday as they are going to be playing in front of their home fans, who do not get too many chances to witness such a quality team like Australia play live. It is an opportunity for the Irish players to perform and become instant heroes as well.
Australia can use this one-off ODI as perfect preparation for the upcoming series against England, which starts on 31 August.
Complete Team Squads
Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, John Mooney, Tim Murtagh, Andrew McBrine, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.
Australia: Steven Smith (capt), Ashton Agar, George Bailey, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Shane Watson, David Warner.
Australia vs Ireland
Venue – Stormont, Belfast
Date and Time – 27 August, 10:45pm local time (3:15pm IST)