ODI series preview: Ireland v Pakistan

Ireland

Pakistan's preparation ahead of the Champions Trophy will continue, while Ireland will chase glory akin to that cherished in 2007, when the teams meet for a couple of ODIs in Dublin this week.

Pakistan's preparation ahead of the Champions Trophy will continue, while Ireland will chase glory akin to that cherished in 2007, when the teams meet for a couple of ODIs in Dublin this week.

Pakistan's jaunt in Scotland was somewhat of a damp squib, with captain Misbah-ul-Haq saving face in the series opener before the final fixture ended in a washout. This time, the competition – ranked considerably higher than the Scots – will prover stiffer and the weather dryer.

If Misbah's men are to succeed against greater opposition next month, conditions similar to those awaiting June must be mastered in May. The batsman can't afford to flounder, while the seamers need to find the swing and seam on offer – soon.

The guidance of former captain Wasim Akram, the recent training camp, and the appointment of New Zealand Trent Woodhill will help, but the players and their potentially fragile temperaments need to deliver the results.

Ireland, meanwhile, will remember fondly their World Cup triumph over this month's rivals five years ago, which booted Pakistan out of the contest – and unfortunately foreshadowed the death of coach Bob Woolmer.

They, too, will recollect twin defeats in 2011 – and the dominance of spinner Saeed Ajmal, who has even more of a formidable force two years later. Past glories must be forsaken for immediate matters if Ireland are to outlast Pakistan this time.

While extended series against full member nations – and possibly Test status – remain the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the Irish will know their latest endeavour – and at least one win – will push a decision from the ICC soon enough. The headway made by Ireland's numerous county representatives will, eventually, enjoy results.

<b>Key Men</b><br>Ireland boast a veritable giant slayer in <b>Kevin O'Brien</b>, and if ever a moment presented itself to build on his 2011 demolition of England, this is it. The absence of seamer John Mooney, banned for a slur on Twitter, need remedying too.

<b>Mohammad Irfan</b> has the makings of the a real gem, fitness and adequate nurturing allowed. Some hefty hauls against batsmen unfamiliar with his pace and height would really set ignite his Champions Trophy aspirations.

<b>Only Three Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2011: Second ODI: Pakistan won by five wickets in Stormont<br>2011: First ODI: Pakistan won by seven wickets in Stormont<br>2007: World Cup, Group D: Ireland won by three wickets in Jamaica

<b>Prediction</b><br> The visitors are not likely to be troubled, perhaps only by the inclement weather, and should take this two-nil. <a href='http://www.skybet.com/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Skybet</b></a>, meanwhile, have Pakistan at 7/1 in the <a href='http://www.skybet.com/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>cricket betting</b></a> to win the impending Champions Trophy.

<b>Squads</b><br><i>Ireland:</i> William Porterfield, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Ed Joyce, John Mooney, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, James Shannon, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Andrew White, Gary Wilson.

<i>Pakistan:</i> Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdur Rehman, Asad Ali, Asad Shafiq, Ehsan Adil, Imran Farhat, Junaid Khan, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Nasir Jamshed, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Amin, Wahab Riaz.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First ODI: Dublin, 23 May<br>Second ODI: Dublin, 26 May

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