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Ireland relish the chance to battle with World's best in one-day internationals in South Africa

By Ian Callender

Ireland will play two of the top three teams in the world in back-to-back one-day internationals next September in South Africa.

Cricket South Africa yesterday confirmed that they will host Ireland in Benoni, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, on Sunday September 25 and Australia, the world champions who meet the Proteas in a five-match series starting the following weekend, will face the Irish on September 27 at the same venue, exactly 13 months after the No.1 ranked team played at Stormont.

It will be Ireland's first ODIs away from home against teams in the top six outside World Cups. The games will continue an increasingly busy 2016 for Ireland, who go to India in March for the World Twenty20 and already have two-match ODI series confirmed at home to Sri Lanka in June and Pakistan in August.

Coach John Bracewell, welcoming the high profile games in South Africa, said: "It's fantastic news for Irish cricket. These are exactly the type of fixtures Irish cricket needs to take the game to the next level.

"There are fewer tougher challenges than playing South Africa in their home conditions plus the number one ranked side in Australia."

And CI chief executive Warren Deutrom added: "Cricket Ireland is most grateful to Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia for giving us this opportunity. More matches, more regularly, against the best players, in overseas conditions are precisely what we need to make us more competitive on the world stage."

Ireland have played two ODIs at Benoni, during the 2009 World Cup qualifying tournament, beating Scotland thanks to a century from captain William Porterfield and Canada, when the man of the match was one Eoin Morgan.

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