Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Can Ireland put a second-string West Indies under pressure?

Shai Hope plays a sweep Getty Images

Big picture

The World Cup is nearly here, but not quite, and the IPL is nearly done, but not quite. In this in-between time comes an ODI tri-series of in-betweenish significance, with each team looking to take something different out of it.

Bangladesh have whisked Shakib Al Hasan away from Sunrisers Hyderabad and assembled their full World Cup squad, plus four others. For them, this is a chance to figure out their best combinations, and to acclimatise to the conditions in the British Isles, although whether early-May pitches in Dublin will remotely resemble the ICC-curated strips in England and Wales remains to be seen.

Ireland won't be at the World Cup, and will want to show everyone - like they did on Friday when they gave England a proper scare - that this is unfair on them.

West Indies, meanwhile, have allowed their star players to remain at the IPL, and their squad here only contains eight players who are part of their preliminary World Cup 15. Spots are theoretically still up for grabs before the final squads are inked in, and the likes of Sunil Ambris, Shane Dowrich and Roston Chase will strive to achieve the optimum balance between exuding team spirit from every pore and hoping for an injury to strike down a bigger name or two.

The last time West Indies met Ireland in an ODI, the stakes were high: a chance to take two crucial points to the Super Six of the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. Ireland had West Indies down to 83 for 5 and then 169 for 6, but a century from Rovman Powell ultimately lifted them to a match-winning 257. Much like in Friday's game against England, Ireland showed they had enough quality to inflict serious damage on more fancied opponents, but not perhaps the depth of resources to seize the advantage fully. Can they show a little more bite this time, against a less-than-full-strength West Indies?

Form guide

Ireland LWLWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies WLWLL

In the spotlight

With Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer still at the IPL, West Indies' top order is perhaps their weakest suit in this tri-series. Ireland will have their best chance of putting them under real pressure if Tim Murtagh and Boyd Rankin can make a few early breakthroughs.

If he features, as he should, Shai Hope will be making his 50th ODI appearance. His numbers so far - an average of 45.56, a strike rate of 72.38 - suggest he's still searching for that extra gear to become a truly elite 50-overs batsman. If he can find some form in this tri-series and carry it into the World Cup, he could just make that step-up at the perfect moment.

Team news

There isn't much reason for Ireland to make any changes to the XI that competed so strongly against England at the same venue.

Ireland (possible): 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Andy Balbirnie, 4 Lorcan Tucker, 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Gary Wilson (wk), 7 George Dockrell, 8 Mark Adair, 9 Tim Murtagh, 10 Josh Little, 11 Boyd Rankin

Given that seam-friendly conditions are expected, West Indies are likely to go in with only one frontline spinner in Ashley Nurse, and three fast bowlers plus Jason Holder in the allrounder's slot at No. 7.

West Indies (possible): 1 John Campbell, 2 Shai Hope (wk), 3 Jonathan Carter, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Roston Chase, 6 Sunil Ambris, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Ashley Nurse, 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Sheldon Cottrell, 11 Shannon Gabriel

Pitch and conditions

Rain reduced Friday's ODI to a 45-overs-a-side contest, but Sunday's forecast does not suggest a high chance of showers. The pitch can be expected to favour seam bowling once again.

Stats and trivia

  • Ireland have beaten West Indies only once in six completed meetings. This was at the 2015 World Cup, where fifties from Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce and Niall O'Brien helped Ireland chase down a target of 305.

  • Ireland have hosted two ODIs against West Indies. Both matches - in Dublin in 2007 and in Belfast ten years later - were washed out by rain.

  • Gary Wilson needs 18 runs to become the sixth Irish batsman to score 2000 ODI runs.

  • Apart from being on the cusp of playing his 50th ODI, Shai Hope is three catches away from 50 as a wicketkeeper in ODIs.

Ireland 2nd innings Partnerships

1st12WTS PorterfieldPR Stirling
2nd9WTS PorterfieldA Balbirnie
3rd0A BalbirnieLJ Tucker
4th42KJ O'BrienA Balbirnie
4th89KJ O'BrienGC Wilson
5th0GC WilsonA Balbirnie
6th3A BalbirnieGH Dockrell
7th4A BalbirnieMR Adair
8th7BJ McCarthyMR Adair
9th19TJ MurtaghBJ McCarthy
10th0TJ MurtaghJB Little