Bangladesh eye rankings climb ahead of Champions Trophy
May 12, 2017
Start time 10.45am local (0945 GMT)
The last time Bangladesh and Ireland met in an ODI, the stadium vibrated to the tune of a 25,000-plus crowd trying hard to back their faltering home team. It was during the 2011 World Cup when the Bangladesh team truly captured the emotions of 140 million people. Despite making 205 batting first, they managed to beat Ireland by 27 runs and kick-start their home World Cup campaign that was shaken by India in the first game.
More than six years on, and they are two teams at very different stages of their development. Bangladesh have been No. 7 in the ICC ODI rankings since 2015, after ODI series wins over Pakistan, India and South Africa that year. They progressed further in the 2016-17 season with Test and ODI wins over England and Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh are now breathing down Sri Lanka's neck in the ranking table and if they can beat Ireland twice and New Zealand at least once during this tri-series, they will enter this year's Champions Trophy as the No. 6 team in the table. Even three years ago, such a stature was a pipedream.
Under Mashrafe Mortaza - who will miss the opening match due to an over-rate suspension - Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and coach Chandika Hathurusingha, Bangladesh have put together a really strong line-up that is a blend of experience and skilful youth. The likes of Mustafizur Rahman, Mehedi Hasan and Mosaddek Hossain are tipped as the leaders of Bangladesh's future.
During the same period Ireland won 23 out of 60 ODIs, once each against England and West Indies. They have lost their standing as the leading Associate nation to Afghanistan in recent times, but are in line to gain Test status in June.
Similar to Bangladesh, Ireland have a core group of players who have now topped 50 ODIs. Ed Joyce, William Porterfield, Paul Stirling and Kevin and Niall O'Brien have the experience required to help nurture a team through a rebuilding phase. The addition of Tim Murtagh has been helpful while the left-arm spinner George Dockrell remains an important cog in their wheel although question marks remain over the new talent coming through.
Bangladesh will be under pressure to beat a lower-ranked side while Ireland will hope that home conditions give them a chance to build some confidence.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Ed Joyce hasn't hit a 50 in his last five ODI innings, but Ireland will keep relying on the experienced top-order batsman, particularly against a tricky bowling line-up. He also would like to improve on his sub-par performance in ODIs in Malahide.
Sabbir Rahman warmed up well against Ireland A, hitting an 86-ball 100. He is steadily establishing himself at No. 3 in Bangladesh's ODI batting line-up, with stiff competition always around the corner. Sabbir will want to start off well against Ireland, to cement himself in the top-order.
Using more pace bowlers is usually what home teams do against Bangladesh, and Ireland should try a similar plan. As a result, the likes of Stuart Thompson and Craig Young could be considered alongside Tim Murtagh, Barry McCarthy and Peter Chase - the latter two having impressed in the recent ODIs against England. Newcomer Simi Singh may have to wait for his chance for an ODI debut.
Ireland (probable) 1 Ed Joyce, 2 Paul Stirling, 3 William Porterfield (capt) 4 Andy Balbirnie, 5 Niall O'Brien (wk), 6 Gary Wilson, 7 Kevin O'Brien, 8 George Dockrell, 9 Barry McCarthy, 10 Tim Murtagh, 11 Peter Chase
Bangladesh are likely to pick their successful batting line-up that has Mahmudullah at No. 7 with Mosaddek Hossain earning a promotion into the top five. Mashrafe Mortaza is suspended for the match due to an over-rate penalty. Shakib Al Hasan will captain.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 5 Mosaddek Hossain, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mehedi Hasan, 9 Shafiul Islam, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Pitch and conditions
Teams batting first in the last three ODIs at the Malahide ground made in excess of 300 runs, with Pakistan and Sri Lanka piling up 337 and 377 in the last two games. Runs may not be quite as easy to come by in relatively early-season conditions. There's some chance of rain in the Malahide area which may influence the side winning the toss.
Stats and trivia
- Tamim Iqbal is Bangladesh's highest run-getter against Associate nations, having made 737 runs in 18 ODIs. Mashrafe Mortaza is the highest wicket-taker against these opponents, with 43 wickets from 25 games.
- Six members each from the Bangladesh and Ireland squad played in the two teams' last encounter in 2011.
- Kevin O'Brien needs three wickets to become the first Ireland bowler to claim 100 in ODIs.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84