<
>

Two sides desperate for an ODI climb

Match facts

August 18, 2016
Start time 1045 local (0945GMT)

Big Picture

There is not much time for Pakistan to bask in their Oval victory. They have since hopped on a plane to Dublin as they switch into one-day mode with a two-match series against Ireland.

The contrast between their rise in Test cricket and struggles in the one-day game has been stark: they sit ninth in the ODI rankings, outside of the automatic qualification places for the 2019 World Cup.

Since the 2015 World Cup they have been captained by Azhar Ali who suffered a 3-0 whitewash at the hands of Bangladesh before two series wins over Zimbabwe - although they lost a match to them in Harare - and one against Sri Lanka. They took the lead against England last year before being comfortably beaten 3-1 and were overturned 2-0 in New Zealand in January.

There are three players in this current squad who will have memories of the first meeting between these sides on that famous day in Jamaica: Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Umar Gul were part of the three-wicket defeat. Six years later, Hafeez and Malik were also involved in a tie in Dublin.

But, like Pakistan, Ireland are struggling in the one-day rankings, currently adrift of Afghanistan and Zimbabwe at the bottom. Their crown of leading Associate has been challenged; they shared their recent series against Afghanistan 2-2. There is a concerning reliance on Ed Joyce at the top of the order - against Afghanistan he was almost 200 runs ahead of Ireland's next highest scorer - and they need much more from the likes of Paul Stirling and captain William Porterfield.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Ireland WLWLL
Pakistan LLLLL

In the spotlight

Azhar Ali regained his form in the final two Tests against England, making a fine century at Edgbaston, a solid 49 after being promoted to open the batting and then finishing the series with a six. Now he has to switch his focus back to trying to find a winning formula in one-day cricket. And he needs to score runs as well. After being appointed captain he enjoyed an early bounce with two centuries in first five games, but has now gone 11 innings without a fifty. His strike-rate, too, has come under scrutiny with the pressure it can put on the rest of the top order.

Barry McCarthy, who plays county cricket for Durham, has enjoyed an impressive start to his Ireland career with 14 wickets in six ODIs. He helped cover for the absence of Boyd Rankin against Afghanistan and will be asked to do the same again after Rankin was ruled out of the rest of the season with injury. He can be expected to share the new ball with Tim Murtagh.

Teams news

Rankin has been ruled out with a stress fracture of the tibia which removes one of Ireland's senior pace bowlers. But they have not called in a replacement with Craig Young now available after an elbow injury. The batting will be boosted by the return of Niall O'Brien.

Ireland (probable) 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Ed Joyce, 3 Niall O'Brien, 4 Gary Wilson, 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Paul Stirling, 7 Stuart Poynter (wk), 8 Andy McBrine, 9 Tim Murtagh, 10 Barry McCarthy, 11 Peter Chase/Craig Young

Pakistan may need to strike a balance between giving some of new arrivals, and those who have been sidelined during the Tests, some cricket and ensuring they do not take a half-hearted approach to these matches. Sharjeel Khan has been called up after a successful A-tour of England, while Umar Gul has the opportunity to show he can still deliver his pinpoint yorkers.

Pakistan (from) Azhar Ali (capt), Sharjeel Khan, Sami Aslam, Mohammad Hafeez, Baber Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Umar Gul, Imad Wasim, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Nawaz

Pitch and conditions

The forecast for Thursday is promisingly dry between two days of significant rain. Of the surface, Ed Joyce said: "We're expecting two good pitches here as they normally are at Malahide."

Stats and trivia

  • William Porterfield and Kevin O'Brien are currently jostling to be Ireland's leading ODI run-scorer: Porterfield sits on 2591 and O'Brien has 2561

  • Sharjeel Khan made 253 runs in four innings during the recent tri-series involving England Lions and Sri Lanka A

  • The overall head-to-head for these sides is 4-1 to Pakistan with one tie.

Quotes

"In the last few years we haven't played very good cricket in one-dayers. Our performances are not as consistent as in Test cricket, and we need to really improve our skills."
Azhar Ali takes a realistic approach

"These guys are definitely favourites but we've got a good one-day team and are hopeful of giving them a few good games. There's a lot of guys in good form in England which bodes well for us."
Ed Joyce has a more optimistic approach