World cricket’s two newest Test-playing nations are set to renew their white-ball rivalry this August when Ireland meet Afghanistan in a six-match series to be held at Bready and Stormont.
Head Coach Graham Ford is expecting to see a positive reaction from his side after the recent India T20 Internationals.
Afghanistan will arrive in Ireland in August for the series, which will feature three T20 Internationals at Bready and three One-Day Internationals at Stormont.
Ford was reflective on his team’s two losses to India, but keeping his view firmly on the longer term.
“There is no denying it, we were outplayed by a world-class opposition. India came with their big guns, and we weren’t able to combat such a hardened and in-form team who have honed their skills through the IPL and international season,” said Ford.
“However, after a few days reflection I am encouraged by some individual performances that our guys displayed over the two matches. Peter Chase taking five wickets in two games, including four wickets in the first match, for instance.
“For a young bowler who had just made his T20I debut earlier in the month, he showed tremendous tenacity and fearlessness at being confronted with one of the world’s best batting sides.
“That he dismissed Virat Kohli twice is something he will treasure for the rest of his career, and should boost his self-belief going forward.
“The batting of James Shannon in that first match was another highlight. To take on the Indian attack and come away with 60 from 35 balls, including four sixes, has really given him a boost. James has the flair and temperament to excel in this form of the game, and he will be keen to impress in front of a home crowd in August.”
Looking ahead to the Afghan challenge, Ford was keen to re-affirm that this series is part of a longer-term goal.
“The recent Tri-Series in the Netherlands was a learning experience and opportunity to experiment with the side, while the Indian series was a chance to pit our guys against the world’s best and give them a taste of what we need to aspire to. While I will be looking for lessons learned to be demonstrated on the pitch, we will maintain our ongoing approach of providing opportunities for a wider pool of players to gain experience in international white ball cricket during this series.
“Our horizon in the short-form of the game is the World T20 Cup qualifiers in 2019 - we need to build a competitive squad for that qualification stage and hopefully to propel us into the main tournament in Australia in 2020.
“The Afghanistan series will be ideal preparation as it provides us with a good level of competitive cricket across a six-match series, and I believe the fans will see a positive reaction from the team after their recent experiences.”
The last time Ireland and Afghanistan met was in Zimbabwe in March for what was effectively the Cricket World Cup Qualification play-off which Afghanistan won by 5 wickets.
Since then the two sides have played their inaugural Test matches and are due to meet head-to-head for the first time in the Test arena in February 2019.
Tickets are now on sale through Ticketmaster
for the six matches in August.