Match: Ireland v Pakistan, 1st ODI (Two-match series)
Venue: Clontarf Cricket Club, Dublin, Ireland.
Date & Time: 23rd May, 2013, 14:45 PST / 09:45 GMT
Overall Rivalry: Pakistan 2 wins, Ireland 1 win
Weather Report: Partly cloudy with a high chance of rain in the morning, then overcast conditions with showers expected in the afternoon. A high of 10C with strong winds from the NW at 30 to 35 km/h are expected.
Ground Report: Clontarf Cricket Club was founded in 1876, the year USA celebrated the first 100 years of its existence and the pint was for less than 1p in the Kingdom. This was a year before the first England vs Australia test match.
The boundaries of the ground are shorter than the minimum requirement of 65 yards on the square and 70 yards on the straight but being an older venue, this ground has exemption from the relatively new ICC regulation.
Out of the seventeen ODI games played here, nine toss winning captains have opted to bat first and eight have chosen to field.
Game On: A flash back to 17th March 2007 is the first vision one gets before a Pakistan versus Ireland cricket game. Pakistan’s first match against the Island state ended in defeat, a knockout from the first round of the World Cup and in the mysterious death of their coach Bob Woolmer. It was arguably the darkest of dark times that Pakistan cricket has gone through, since the turn of the century.
Six years on, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Karman Akmal are the only surviving members in the Pakistani squad from the horror show in West Indies. However, there will probably be little dressing room talk of that game in build up to this one. Dav Whatmore and Misbah-ul-Haq will look to use this opportunity to get some game time and experiment with their combination ahead of the Champions Trophy.
Ireland is coming off a successful campaign against UAE, winning both its World Cup qualifying games. It gets them a step closer to a berth in ICC’s premier tournament scheduled in 2015. Ireland will hope to carry on their momentum and Pakistan will try to get their feet moving in preparation for the bigger battle in England that starts in a fortnight.
Ireland has given consistent fights to strong opponents like England and Australia in recent years but has not been able to seal the game after getting into a position of strength. John Mooney, who hit the winning runs in their famous chase of a mammoth total of 327 against England, will miss the game due to disciplinary suspension.
With the gap in talent and rankings between the two teams, it should be a routine win for Pakistan. However, in a cold and windy day expected at Dublin, Pakistan could find themselves in alienating conditions; they cannot afford to slack.
Game Changer: Rain is expected, and a shorter version of the game could be played out at Dublin. The shorter the game, the higher the element of surprise is.
Pre-Game Talk: "We've always got a chance in our conditions." Ireland coach Phil Simons is going in with a positive approach.
“Ireland will be tough to beat as most of its players have English county experience.” Pakistan Captain Misbah-ul-Haq is a little apprehensive.
Last XI Fielded Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, AR Cusak, Ed Joyce, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Gary Wilson.
Last XI Fielded Pakistanis: Imran Frahat, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Amin, Misbah-ul-Haq(capt), Asad Shafiq, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal, Ehsan Adil, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan.
Ireland: An unchanged 14 man squad has been announced but John Mooney will miss the first game due to a suspension over a tweet about the death of Margaret Thatcher.
Pakistan: Shoaib Malik might get the nod to fight for his position in place of Umar Amin while Wahab Riaz and Asad Ali will also be hoping to get a chance to prove their worth.
Final Words: Pakistan desperately needs their batsmen to start performing as the clock is ticking and their preparation period is coming to a close.