The winner of ICC Intercontinentel Cup 2015-17 will play the 10th ranked Test side in 2018 © Getty Images
The winner of ICC Intercontinentel Cup 2015-17 will play the 10th ranked Test side in 2018 in a four match ‘Test Challenge’ © Getty Images

All four Associate nations, which recently impressed at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, will be starting their journey towards becoming the 11th Test playing nation, from Tuesday. The opening round matches of the four-day First-Class Intercontinental Cup 2015-17, which is a pathway for Test cricket, is starting from Tuesday. Ireland will face the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at Malahide and Scotland will welcome Afghanistan to Stirling. READ: ICC Intercontinental winner will earn an opportunity to play Test cricket

The side that wins this eight-team round-robin competition will play the 10th-ranked side on the ICC Test Team Rankings (as at 31 December 2017) in the four-match ICC Test Challenge during 2018. It will be a home and away base contest. If the Associate Member wins the series, then it will become the 11th Test nation.

This is defending champion Ireland’s seventh appearance in this competition. It also features former winner Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Namibia, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Scotland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Ireland has participated in all six ICC Intercontinental Cup since its inception in 2004, winning it four times – 2005, 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2011-13. They have played 32 matches; winning 20, losing just two and drawing 10. In contrast, Tuesday’s game will be the UAE’s sixth appearance in the competition which it has yet to win. To date, it has played 27 matches, winning seven, losing ten and drawing 10.

(With inputs from ICC Media release)