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Irish are aiming to move up the order, says Ford

Lofty ambitions: Graham Ford
Lofty ambitions: Graham Ford

By Ian Callender

Ireland head coach Graham Ford has said that his men are on a journey as they bid to improve their world ranking in the Twenty20 arena.

Since the South African took over at the end of 2017, Ireland have moved up from their nadir of 18th place and go into the five-team tournament in Oman tomorrow in 14th and looking upwards.

It is T20 action all the way for Ireland for the rest of the month, with the four games in the Al Amerat Stadium in Muscat followed by two warm-up matches in Abu Dhabi ahead of a minimum of eight games at the T20 World Cup qualifiers.

"A lot of work has been done over the last two years but we haven't finished yet," said Ford on arrival in Oman. "The work we are putting in as a squad ahead of the Qualifiers has been crucial in giving ourselves the best opportunity to progress to the finals in Australia next year."

The build-up to the Qualifiers started in earnest last month with victory in the Tri-Series against Scotland and Netherlands, when they won two of their three games, losing their one match against the Dutch.

Tomorrow they get the chance of revenge when the teams meet on the opening day of the Oman tournament, but the performance will be more important than the final result.

"The Tri-Series was an ideal opportunity to give some of the newer, less experienced lads a chance to fill important roles," added Ford.

"In general there were pleasing aspects in all three departments of our cricket - batting, bowling and fielding - and we will use our time well in Oman to ensure further improvement."

Ireland's fixtures (all times GMT): Tomorrow: Netherlands (10.30am). Sunday: Oman (6.30am). Monday: Hong Kong (10.30am). Wednesday: Nepal (6.30am).

Meanwhile, Cricket Ireland have announced they will host Pakistan next summer in two T20 internationals at a venue to be confirmed.

Pakistan were Ireland's first Test opponents at Malahide in May last year but this will be only the second T20 international between the teams, the first 10 years ago at The Oval when Pakistan won the T20 World Cup match by 39 runs.

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