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May 22, 2013
Ireland coach Phil Simmons believes his side has made enough progress in recent years to start beating Test nations on a regular basis and sees this week's ODI series against Pakistan as the perfect opportunity to claim another scalp.
Ireland will have fond memories of their triumph over Pakistan during the 2007 World Cup but Bangladesh apart, they are still awaiting victory over one of the top-ranked countries on home soil despite narrow defeats to England and Australia in the last three years. Simmons is confident his side can prepare for July's crucial World Cup qualifiers against Netherlands by upsetting the odds against the side currently ranked sixth in the world.
"It's difficult when you play games at home as we only have a few squad-days together in which to gain momentum, but we need to show the improvements that we've made in recent years," Simmons said.
"Our improvement is a constant work in progress, and while Pakistan have some unbelievable talent in their ranks, we want to prove that we don't just beat the major teams in big tournaments. We are a side in constant progress and these games are important to show how much we've come on since the last international team was here."
With Test status their long-term ambition, Simmons believes the ICC is keeping a close eye on his sides' performances, which he feels brings its own pressures.
"We need to play these games all the time, the more these games are played the more we can measure our progress," Simmons said. "The ICC know what we're capable of and it's important we forget about sending them a message and just start winning games.
"I think our performances are a little more magnified than the other Associate members, so that's why we have to make sure we perform up to a high standard but we also need to get our priorities right."
Simmons has a full-strength squad to choose from and with several of his key players enjoying a good start to the county season, the hosts will be confident ahead of the two-game series which starts on Thursday.
"It's difficult to get the momentum when the guys are only home for a couple of days at a time but the good thing about it is all the guys are playing regularly in England so everybody should be sharp enough," Simmons said. "It's important that we get together ahead of the Holland games and play some good cricket in preparation and beating Pakistan would be huge going into the qualifiers."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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