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June 22, 2007
Trent Johnston, Ireland's captain, has challenged his young squad to produce the goods against the might of India who they face in a one-dayer on Saturday at Stormont, Belfast.
Only seven members of the squad which beat Pakistan to reach the Super Eights of the World Cup remain, but Johnston insists that - in spite of being in a phase of regeneration, not to mention beset by injuries - they can still challenge India.
"At the World Cup people questioned where the next generation of Irish cricketers would come from - well here they are," Johnston, 33, said."These matches could be the start of a new era. We've got a new coach [Phil Simmons] who is bringing new things to the table and a group of young players with new ideas.
"Of course we're looking to rebuild but the fact that we still have a strong squad shows we've got a lot of depth."
Roger Whelan, Gary Kidd, Alex Cusack and Thinus Fourie - who have five international caps between them - are all set to play against India and Johnston has backed them to produce the goods.
"Playing these sides is great as the young lads get to test themselves against legends of the game like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid," he said. "Just to say you have faced those players is incredible and every one of our lads is looking forward to it.
"It's important the younger guys make the step up but we are confident they are ready. When they are given a chance like this they need to grab it with both hands."
After India, Ireland face South Africa on Sunday before the two touring teams pair off in three further one-dayers next week.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough