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Ireland's cricketers facing a hot reception during Zimbabwe tour


Big calls: John Bracewell has a few line-up decisions to make

Big calls: John Bracewell has a few line-up decisions to make

?INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Big calls: John Bracewell has a few line-up decisions to make

Ireland received a warm welcome on their first tour of Zimbabwe for five years and it will get even hotter by the time they play the first of three one-day internationals tomorrow (8.30am BST).

Temperatures are set to soar in Harare and after just four days' acclimatisation it promises to be a tough test for an Irish side who must win the series to stay above Zimbabwe in 10th place in the ODI rankings.

Coach John Bracewell's first decision will be his choice of wicket-keeper with Niall O'Brien, the last to arrive in the country on Tuesday after his wedding on Saturday, favourite to keep the gloves he was given for Ireland's last game, six weeks ago, against Australia with Gary Wilson again playing as a specialist batsman.

George Dockrell's bowling in the nets this week is likely to decide if he is ready for a return to the side after being dropped from the game at Stormont. But with Zimbabwe losing 19 of their 20 wickets in the two defeats in last week's three-match series against Pakistan to spinners, he may be pressed into service regardless, with Paul Stirling as the third slow bowler behind Andy McBrine.

Kevin O'Brien, who missed his first ODI in eight years because of injury, will return for his 250th international, while there could be a familiar face in the opposition line-up with former Lisburn professional Craig Ervine returning to the Zimbabwe squad.

Ireland squad: W Porterfield (capt), A Balbirnie, G Dockrell, E Joyce, J Mooney, T Murtagh, A McBrine, K O'Brien, N O'Brien, S Poynter, M Sorensen, P Stirling, S Thompson, G Wilson, C Young

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