Ireland to stage Bangladesh Super League ODIs in England
South Africa's docked point for slow over-rate improves Ireland's qualification prospects
Ireland will stage their final Super League series against Bangladesh in May at a venue in England to maximise their chances of World Cup qualification.
Ireland's hopes of finishing in the top eight of the Super League will rely on South Africa and Sri Lanka's results against Netherlands and New Zealand respectively.
But unless Sri Lanka win 3-0 in New Zealand in March, a 3-0 Ireland victory over Bangladesh is likely to be sufficient for them to clinch the eighth spot - and therefore a spot at the 2023 World Cup in India without needing to play the qualifier in Zimbabwe in June-July.
South Africa's docked point for a slow over-rate against England represented a major boost to Ireland's hopes. If South Africa beat Netherlands 2-0 and Ireland beat Bangladesh 3-0, the teams will finish level on points and be separated by net run-rate; previously, the same results would have seen South Africa finish one point ahead of Ireland. As it stands, Ireland's net run-rate (minus 0.382) is marginally better than South Africa's (minus 0.410) - though South Africa will see the series against Netherlands in March-April as an opportunity to boost theirs.
Cricket Ireland have been in talks with the ECB over recent months about playing the series at a county venue in the second week of May. ESPNcricinfo understands that Chelmsford is the most likely host.
There is no guarantee that the rain will stay away in England. But Cricket Ireland believe there is a greater chance of three full matches being played to a result in England than in Dublin or Belfast.
There is also a financial aspect to the decision: Ireland do not have a permanent home venue and spend hundreds of thousands of euros on temporary infrastructure every year to play at Malahide, just outside Dublin.
Ireland staged two T20Is against South Africa in Bristol last year, and will continue to explore the possibility of hosting some fixtures in England until their plans to build a permanent stadium at the Sport Ireland campus in Abbotstown come to fruition.
The series also presents a rare opportunity for the large Bangladeshi diaspora in England to watch their team live. Bangladesh were well supported at venues throughout the 2019 World Cup, but England have not hosted a home series against them since 2010 and are not due to do so before the end of the 2023-27 Future Tours Programme.
Both Ireland (Josh Little) and Bangladesh (Shakib Al Hasan, Litton Das and Mustafizur Rahman) have players involved in the IPL, but all four are expected to play in the Super League series in May.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98