Australia will look to assert their dominance over Ireland in the on-off ODI © Getty Images
Australia will look to assert their dominance over Ireland in the on-off ODI © Getty Images

Australia get ready to embrace their first round of limited-overs cricket since winning the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 when they take on Ireland in the one-off One-Day International (ODI) at Belfast on Thursday. The visiting Australian team return to action after a surreal few weeks, that saw them bid emotional goodbyes to veterans Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris. They also surrendered the coveted Ashes urn in the 2015 edition by a 2-3 margin, losing the matches at Cardiff, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge in spectacular fashion, while thumping the hosts at Lord’s and The Oval. Ireland, on the other hand, will play their first round of cricket against a top quality side since the 2015 World Cup, having finished as the semi-finalists in the recent ICC World T20 Qualifiers 2015. READ: Steven Smith named captain as Australia announce squad for England, Ireland ODIs

The Australian ODI squad bears a vast change from their Test side, with a few regular faces barring the retirees missing from its roster. Steven Smith has been groomed into the leader in all three formats following the retirement of Michael ‘Pup’ Clarke, who was given a memorable guard of honour along with Rogers at the end of The Oval Test. David Warner is part of the side, and Joe Burns is likely to be his partner, with the likes of Smith and George Bailey coming in next to complete the top-order. READ: Ireland announce squad for one-off ODI against Australia

Explosive middle-order batsman Glenn Maxwell returns to the side after good stint with Yorkshire during the English County season. Having played on similar conditions and excelled in them for the most part while his countrymen defended the urn against the Englishmen makes him a good candidate for the upcoming ODIs. He will be accompanied by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, and preferably one of the two all-rounders in Shane Watson and Mitchell Marsh. In the bowling attack, skipper Smith might rest one-day specialist Mitchell Starc in order to save him for the matches against England up ahead, with the untested options of Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Ashton Agar.

The Irish, on the other hand, have some unfinished business against Australia, or so captain William Porterfield thinks ahead of the clash, in a apparent reference to a fixture that was supposed to occur at the same venue three years ago, but was washed out due to rain. The tenth-ranked team in ODIs had to deal with a blow to their side when veteran all-rounder Alex Cusack, a key member of their side, announced his retirement from international cricket after helping them qualify for the upcoming World Twenty20 event, which is to be held in India.

All the members in the current squad, with the exception of Stuart Thompson, were part of the squad in the recent World Cup. The Australians will have to watch out for the hard-hitter in Kevin O’Brien, as well as the seasoned batsmen in Porterfield and Ed Joyce. At any rate, the world champions will not underestimate Ireland at their own peril like West Indies and Pakistan in the past. READ: Cricket Ireland seek new team sponsor

Squads:

Australia: Steven Smith (c), Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, George Bailey, Shane Watson, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Agar, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson.

Ireland: William Porterfield (c), Andy Balbernie, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Andy McBrine, John Mooney, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien,  Niall O’Brien, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.

Time: 10:45 Local | 09:45 GMT | 15:15 IST

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)