After an impressive two practice games in the humidity of Colombo, Ireland’s match action steps up a gear tomorrow when they face Zimbabwe in their first official warm-up match, ahead of the World Twenty20 next week.
The game, which starts at 4.30am Irish time, is Ireland’s first ever T20 game against the Africans, and they will be out to avenge the 2-1 ODI series defeat in Harare in September 2010.
“That was a series we should have won 3-0,” recalls the captain, William Porterfield. “They won the first game off the last ball and in the second game we had them seven down for 190 and they got up to 240. We beat them convincingly in the last match and we'll be looking for another good performance on Thursday.
For Ireland, though, it is all about getting game time ahead of next Wednesday’s World Twenty20 opener, against Australia. And the first two could not have gone any better.
The captain wasn’t involved in the first, against the Singhalese Sports Club, having just arrived from the little matter of helping Warwickshire to the county championship title, but he saw enough and liked what he saw.
“I fielded on and off on Sunday, before getting a net at the back, but I saw bits and pieces and it was a good, comfortable win.”
The victory the following day, by seven wickets against Sri Lanka A, was even more impressive with Ed Joyce, one of the late arrivals, proving he can play Twenty20 cricket as well the next man, with a half century off just 39 balls.
“It’s great to get a few games under your belts especially in these humid conditions. It’s testing for the lads but they have bowled and batted well and that’s all you can ask for, building up to the tournament.
“All of the squad have now played at least one game and all the bowlers have bowled four overs. We’ve two more big games and we’ll see how the lads pull up tomorrow.
“It would be great if the lads could do their tournament roles in the final warm-up game on Monday (against Zimbabwe), but it doesn’t always work out like that.”
County championship cricket and the Twenty20 format may be the haute cuisine and fast food of the catering world but Porterfield’s winner's medal must surely inspire him going into his fifth World Cup campaign and his fourth as captain.
“It was a quite a unique feeling when we came off the field at the Rose Bowl (having lost the championship last year) because we couldn’t wait for next season to start. It was a confident mood without being arrogant, and to win it last week with a game to spare was a great feeling.
Porterfield misses out on the chance of the double, when Warwickshire play in the CB 40 final at Lord’s on Saturday.