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Ireland and West Indies set for battle at Cricket World Cup

Ulster and Ireland rugby legends make the trip to New Zealand

By Ian Callender

Cricket World Cup 2015 is still waiting for a close match as Ireland and West Indies take centre stage - the only match on day three - in Nelson overnight.

South Africa and India confirmed they will be the teams to beat in Group B with victories over Zimbabwe and Pakistan by the comfortable margins of 62 and 76 runs respectively. It continues the sequence of the team batting first in each of the first four games winning the match and posting a total of least 300.

Among the spectators in a capacity 6,500 crowd at tonight's game are former Ireland international Paul Mooney, brother of John, who has been living in New Zealand for the last eight years since retiring from the international scene after the 2007 World Cup.

Also here are former Ireland and Ulster rugby players Harry Rea and Johnny Moffatt. Rea, now Head of Medicine in at the University of Auckland, is a former Ulster captain and was on the winning team in both his internationals, against Australia in 1967 and France two years later. Moffatt also played twice for Ireland, in 1960 and 1961.

Meanwhile, Ireland will begin their defence of the Intercontinental Cup with a home game against the UAE.

The eight-team competition, which does not conclude until November 2017, moves up a gear for this latest edition because the winners are guaranteed a four-match Challenge series against the lowest ranked Test nation with the prize of Test status for a four-year period if the Associate nations triumphs. Ireland have won four of the first six tournaments.

It could come down to the final round of games which will be played simultaneously, almost certainly in the UAE, and Ireland’s opponents will be Scotland in what could be the fiercest and most important of all the games between the great rivals over the last 100 years.

Ireland’s opener is likely to be at Stormont on June 1-4 with the second match, away to Namibia set for Windhoek in October, although all dates and venues have still to be confirmed.

The third round of games will take the Ireland team to a new venue, with Papua New Guinea their hosts in the spring of 2016 followed by a home game against Hong Kong in September next year.

The final three rounds will take place in 2017 with Ireland facing Afghanistan – likely to be their biggest rivals for the title – in the UAE , with a home game against the Netherlands in the summer.

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