Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Cricket: Ireland to tackle Pakistan in Belfast

Jacob Oram celebrates taking the wicket of Graeme Smith during New Zealand's stunning victory over South Africa in the quarter-finals of the World Cup

Ireland will get the chance to play Pakistan in an official one-day international after all.

Defeat to the West Indies in Chandigarh cost them the chance to face Shahid Afridi’s side in the quarter-finals of the World Cup this week but it was confirmed yesterday that the teams will meet in two ODIs at Stormont at the end of May.

The first game will be on Friday, May 27 with the second to follow two days later.

It will be only the second time the teams have met since Ireland’s World Cup victory in Jamaica on St Patrick’s Day, 2007. Pakistan won the World Twenty20 game at The Oval two years ago by 39 runs.

Ireland could yet be hosting the World champions after Pakistan’s victory over the West Indies on Wednesday took them into a semi-final against India next week.

Welcoming the games, Ireland coach Phil Simmons said: “This is what we have been crying out for — fixtures against the top teams in the world. We have shown just how much our cricket has improved, and by playing these type of games, it’ll keep growing in the right direction.

“We’re due to play Sri Lanka (in July) and England (at Clontarf in August) as well this summer, so that’s definitely a step in the right direction as far as Irish cricket is concerned.

“These games mean we will have played all the top 10 teams in world cricket in just over 12 months.

“It will be a great chance for the players to pit their wits against some of the best in world cricket, and I’m sure the Irish supporters will come out in numbers to support the team in their first appearances on Irish soil following the World Cup.”

The first game will take place just three days after Pakistan end a two-match Test series in the West Indies. Before that the countries will play five ODIs.

Pakistan are currently sixth in the world, just behind England, whom Ireland, of course, defeated at the World Cup.

Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland chief executive, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Pakistan Cricket Board for agreeing to these fixtures, particularly coming as they do at the end of a long time away from home for the squad.”

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt said: “The fight that the Irish team displayed at the World Cup lit up the event.

“We anticipate a hard fought series as the Irish team has shown that they are capable of playing against the best in the world,” he added.

The fixtures were made possible thanks to generous funding from the Irish Sports Council, Sport NI, the ICC High Performance Programme and Ireland’s team sponsor, RSA.

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