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September 18, 2012
The exploits of the Ireland team at global ICC tournaments have become a colourful side narrative in recent years, from the thrilling humiliations of Pakistan and England at successive World Cups to their ousting of Bangladesh in the World Twenty20 group stage in 2009.
Ireland have put in place a roadmap to playing Test cricket and despite the talent drain across the Irish Sea - Boyd Rankin will retire after the tournament in the bid to pursue a career with England - they have built solid foundations in the limited-overs formats. Briefly ranked above Australia in T20Is earlier this month, the group meeting between the two will be eagerly anticipated by schadenfreude fans the world over, as well as by Ireland's miserly attack leader Trent Johnston, born in Wollongong, New South Wales, 38 years ago.
A hard-working team, Ireland have several players capable of making the difference in tight games. Allrounder Kevin O'Brien is instantly recognisable - even without the mangy purple dye job - after his record-breaking innings in Bangalore, while Paul Stirling and William Porterfield provide a potentially explosive opening partnership and Niall O'Brien brings experience of playing in the Bangladesh Premier League. If the ball swings, Middlesex seamer Tim Murtagh could be a canny addition to their set-up.
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