After managing to draw the Test series against England, Pakistan will shift their focus to limited-over cricket, as they are set to face Ireland in a two-match ODI series, starting Thursday in Dublin. Pakistan will aim to win both the matches before they clash against England for an ODI series, comprising five matches.
Pakistan might start the match as favourites against Ireland, and are also expected to field a strong team, which will be led by Azhar Ali. They have a strong squad, with some big names in the squad including Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez.
Despite possessing such stars in their team, they have not been impressive in ODI cricket, as their ICC rankings (nine) suggest so. A good performance in the two series against Ireland and England will help them get their confidence back.
The Pakistan captain believes that the retirement of some experienced stars in the last one year or so has hampered the team, but wants to show support to the new players coming in.
"There are a lot of reasons behind our one-day performances. We've lost a lot of experienced players in the recent past. The youngsters are coming in and need a bit of time to get settled. We need a bit of consistency in selection - we have to back the guys who are coming into the squad. In the last few years we didn't perform to all aspects of the game," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Ali as saying.
Despite their below par rankings, Pakistan are a huge threat to any team in world cricket as they can beat any nation on their day. Ireland are aware of the fact, and need to come up with quality cricket to defeat this determined Pakistan team.
In the last two ODI series played, Ireland have not been able to emerge victorious. After losing to Sri Lanka, they could have defeated Afghanistan, but the entertaining series ended 2-2. Though Ireland may not be a big name in international cricket, they have some cricketers, who have been around for some time.
Experienced stars like William Porterfield, the O'Brien brothers (Kevin and Niall), Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce will need to shoulder major responsibility to stun Pakistan in the series. Ireland can use such matches against quality opposition to prepare them for major world events as well.
"We've gone through a transition ourselves in the last two years. Against Afghanistan we had 70 caps in our whole attack, bar Kevin O'Brien. That's the exciting thing for ourselves. A lot of the lads coming in are under 23 or 24 and looking to stake their claims. We just need more games for them to build up their experience, so when the next World Cup comes around they've got a battery of games under their belt," Porterfield said.
Teams: Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), John Anderson, Peter Chase, Ed Joyce, Tim Murtagh, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Stuart Poynter, Paul Stirling, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.
Pakistan: Azhar Ali (capt), Sharjeel Khan, Sami Aslam, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Nawaz.
Where to watch Pakistan vs Ireland live
Pakistan vs Ireland 1st ODI is scheduled for 10:45 am local time (3:15 pm IST, 5:45 am) start. There is no live TV coverage in India.
Pakistan – TV: PTV Sports. Live streaming: PTV Sports live
Ireland - TV: Setanta Sports Ireland.