Pakistan in Ireland 2011 May 28, 2011

O'Brien wants Ireland to move up in ODI rankings

ESPNcricinfo staff

Almost three months since he blasted his way to the fastest-ever World Cup hundred, Kevin O'Brien returns to international action as Ireland take on Pakistan in a two-match ODI series. Though looking back at Ireland's impressive World Cup campaign, during which they upset England, still puts a smile on his face, his focus now is helping Ireland rise up the ODI rankings starting with the Pakistan series.

"These games are massive; with the one-day international status comes the ranking points," O'Brien said on Irish radio show RTE Drivetime Sport. "If we get a couple of wins here, we hopefully can climb up that table, and get as close as we can to ninth place."

Ireland are still some way off ninth-placed Bangladesh in the rankings, and even two wins would still leave them several points behind. But it would put some distance between them and Zimbabwe.

O'Brien said the World Cup had been wonderful for the Ireland team, but they now had to start again against a strong Pakistan outfit. "The World Cup was a fantastic experience for all the players and the management. But we've got to put that to the back of our mind and start again on Saturday with a big game against Pakistan.

"They've got some experienced players and they've got some young guys who are coming in looking to show what they can do at international level. So it's going to be two very tight games, and hopefully we can perform well, to our abilities, and get a win or two."

Phil Simmons, the Ireland coach, said a big change in the mentality of the Ireland side was that they now thought about winning rather than just survival or putting up a fight. O'Brien said he doesn't think about the result of a game and concentrates on the basics. "We've got to go in with a positive mentality and hopefully we can hit our areas with the ball and bat well. We can't really look too much at the result before the game; we've just got to go in and do our basics well."

Ireland will be missing two key players for the series: O'Brien's brother Niall O'Brien and left-arm spinner George Dockrell, who are both injured. Kevin O'Brien said his brother would be a big miss because of his form in the English domestic season for Northamptonshire, but it would give someone else a chance to perform on a big stage.

"Niall has started the season over in England fantastically well. He has scored a couple of hundreds and five fifties, so he is in great nick. I suppose it gives another guy a chance to come in and show what they can do, and hopefully we can all pull together, the 14 guys out here, and hopefully play well."

Kevin O'Brien has also been playing in England, in limited overs-matches for Gloucestershire.