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Tim Murtagh back for Ireland's Inter-Continental Cup quest

By Ian Callender

Tim Murtagh will be included in the Ireland squad for the first Inter-continental Cup match of the season, against UAE at Malahide, which is due to be announced today.

Murtagh will return to the international fold after an absence of over a year - his last game was against Sri Lanka on May 6, 2014.

He missed Ireland's entire winter programme, including the World Cup, through injury and a hamstring injury has kept him out of the Middlesex team for the last two weeks.

He also missed the one-day international against England 11 days ago.

However, Ireland are hoping he will be fit for the four-day game, starting on June 2, which is the first of seven Inter-continental Cup games over the next two and a half years which will determine if Ireland have a chance of playing Test cricket before the end of the decade.

Ireland are the four-times winners and current holders of the Cup and if they win this edition they will play a four-match, home and away, Challenge series in 2018 against the lowest ranked Test team - currently Zimbabwe -with the winners achieving Test status for the following four years.

The rest of the squad is expected to be the 13 who were involved in the England game, which was abandoned after just 18 overs, all county professionals now being available for Inter-continental Cup games as they are a mandatory release because the tournament is a pathway to Test cricket.

William Porterfield, who played his 200th Ireland game at Malahide, will captain the team in a home I-Cup match for only the third time since he took over the captaincy in 2008, while in the same period Niall O'Brien has missed every one of Ireland's 11 games in the competition played during our summer.

Meanwhile, it's been confirmed Ireland will play three Twenty20 matches against Scotland in Bready on June 18, 19 and 21, as final match preparation before the squad assemble on July 3 for the World Twenty20 qualifiers, being held at Stormont and Malahide.

Most of the county professionals will not be available to face the Scots, but under ICC tournament rules, the squad for the qualifying tournament will have already been announced.

Six of the 14 teams will join the 10 Test nations in the finals in India next March.

Belfast Telegraph


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