UAE will be high on confidence after recent wins over Hong Kong and Scotland © Getty Images
UAE will be high on confidence after recent wins over Hong Kong and Scotland © Getty Images

By Aathira Ramanathan

The hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE)  are all set to lock horns with Ireland in a two-match One-Day International (ODI) series in March 2017. The first match is scheduled to be played on March 2 whereas the second will be on March 4, and both the games will be played at the ICC Global Cricket Academy Ground in Dubai. This will be the first time; Ireland will be travelling to Dubai for a bilateral ODI series. The two ODIs have been arranged as a part of Ireland’s training prior to the Intercontinental match with Afghanistan, which will be held in Greater Noida, India. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: UAE vs Ireland, 1st ODI at Dubai

UAE and Ireland have played against each other in the past in four T20I matches and a solitary ODI. UAE have won only one T20I against Ireland among the four T20Is and have lost in the only ODI played between them.

The last time these two teams clashed was in the Desert T20I series, where Ireland thrashed UAE with by 24 runs to secure a place in the semi-final. But ultimately the Desert T20 series was won by Afghanistan.

Their only previous ODI clash was during the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015, when a late flourish from Gary Wilson and Kevin O’Brien carried the Irish to a two-wicket victory with four deliveries to spare in a high-scoring contest at The Gabba in Brisbane.

Ground statistics

So far, 17 ODI matches have been played on this ground, where the teams who batted second won 11 times while the teams who batted first have won only 6 times. The highest score on this ground was recorded by South Africa in 2010 when they scored 317 for 5 against Pakistan. Kevin Pietersen holds the record of registering the highest individual total — 130 — at this venue.

Ireland holds a successful record against UAE

Ireland have a great record against UAE. Both the teams are good and have the potential to stun each other on their day. But the Ireland have more chances as they have enjoyed dominating UAE in the past. Ireland are currently the table-toppers of the seventh edition of the First-Class tournament being played between 2015-17, featuring eight associate members of the ICC.

As of now, UAE have proved themselves in the Tri- Nation series against Hong Kong and Scotland by winning both the matches they have played. On, the other hand, Ireland have just faced a loss at the hands of Australia ODI series in September 2016. UAE will be high on confidence after recent wins over Hong Kong and Scotland, but the Irish look too formidable on paper.

Porterfield has a string of quality performers at his disposal, among them Ed Joyce, O’Brien brothers Kevin and Niall, and Wilson with the bat, the versatility of Paul Stirling and the bowling of Tim Murtagh, Barry McCarthy and George Dockrell, the 24-year-old left-arm spinner.

UAE, though they were on top of their game in the tri-series defeating both Hong Kong and Scotland with a reasonable degree of comfort, will be aware of the threat that Ireland will pose. Its familiarity with home conditions will help, but whether that will be enough to stop the daunting Irish team is the most important question.

Key players not included in the Ireland ODI squad

Ireland’s premier pacer Boyd Rankin has been rested for the ODIs against UAE, but he will join the team for the 10-day training camp ahead of the series against Afghanistan. Cricket Ireland also confirmed that top-order batsman Nick Larkin had ruled himself out of the running for a place in the Ireland ranks for the time being.

After this ODI tour against UAE, Ireland team will prepare to face Afghanistan and England in upcoming days.

Squads:

Ireland: William Porterfield (c), Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, Gary Wilson (wk), Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, George Dockrell, Barry McCarthy, Tim Murtagh, Andy Balbirnie, Andy McBrine, Jacob Mulder, Stuart Thompson, Craig Young

UAE: Rohan Mustafa (c), Shaiman Anwar (vc), Adnan Mufti, Mohammed Usman, Ghulam Shabbir (wk), Mohammed Qasim, Amjad Javed, Mohammed Naveed, Ahmed Raza, Imran Haider, Zahoor Khan, Qadeer Ahmed, Rameez Shahzad, Laxman Sreekumar.