INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ireland ready for visit of cricket heavyweights Pakistan to Clontarf

In their last result against a Full Member nation, Ireland lost to Australia by seven wickets at the T20 World Cup.

IRELAND ARE LOOKING forward to the chance to build on their strong start to 2013 in a two-game one-day international series against Pakistan.

Pakistan are in Europe preparing for next month’s ICC Champions Trophy and will arrive in Dublin after a 1-0 series win over Scotland last week where they won the first ODI by 96 runs before the second was washed out without a ball being bowled.

Ireland are undefeated in 2013, having played three matches this year, knocking off the United Arab Emirates in two ODIs and one Twenty20 International (T20I), and Irish all-rounder Kevin O’Brien feels the second-tier cricket nation are looking forward to testing themselves against Pakistan.

The first match will held tomorrow at the Clontarf Cricket Club Ground in Dublin, with the second encounter scheduled for Sunday at the same venue.

“It’ll be a great chance for me personally and for the team to show what we can do again,” O’Brien told “It has been a while since we’ve played a Full Member (of the ICC).”

Ireland are one of six countries who are associate or affiliate members of the ICC, which means they are allowed to play ODIs and T20Is but are barred from playing Test cricket.

In their last result against a Full Member nation, Ireland lost to Australia by seven wickets at the T20 World Cup but O’Brien and his teammates did overcome Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the lead-up to that tournament in Sri Lanka.

Pakistan will be an entirely different challenge for Ireland, however, and O’Brien is wary of off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, the number one ODI bowler in the world.

“We played against him two years ago and we know that he’s obviously a tricky customer,” O’Brien said. “(But) there are no specific plans for him, just go out and enjoy facing a great spinner. We’ll have to give him the respect he deserves and try to score off as many balls as we can.”

Ireland captain William Porterfield will be crucial for the hosts as he has notched two half-centuries in their past two matches, while Pakistan’s skipper Misbah-ul-Haq is also in fine scoring form, having smashed 83 in the first game against Scotland.

The two-match series in Dublin will be the second-last leg of Pakistan’s preparation tour ahead of the Champions Trophy.

Pakistan will then head to England to play Sri Lanka in Birmingham and South Africa in London before their opening Champions Trophy match against the West Indies on June 7.

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