ODI preview: Ireland v Scotland


Scotland will get the opportunity to bounce back from their comprehensive and humiliating defeat to Australia when they face Ireland in their final set of ICC World Cricket League fixtures.

Scotland will get the opportunity to bounce back from their comprehensive and humiliating defeat to Australia when they face Ireland in their final set of ICC World Cricket League fixtures, but know they must win both games at Stormont if they are to keep their automatic qualification for the 2015 World Cup alive.

While Phil Simmons' side have already booked their place in Australia/New Zealand, their opponents' hopes are hanging by a thread and need to pick up the four points on offer to maintain the pressure on Afghanistan and Netherlands in the race for qualification.

The Scots, who were on the end of a 200-run drubbing by Australia on Tuesday, are currently in fourth position on fifteen points along with Afghanistan and three behind the Netherlands. Two victories would see them move into second place and knock both Holland and the United Arab Emirates out of the race for automatic qualification.

However, they will come up against an Irish side who have lost just one of their 12 fixtures to date and have a full strength squad to choose from, which includes no fewer than eight county stars.

Ireland will be still licking their wounds after a disappointing six-wicket defeat to near neighbours England on Tuesday and will be determined to get back to winning ways against their Celtic rivals.

Ireland have firmly positioned themselves on top of the associate nation standings in recent years while the gulf in class between themselves and the others, including Scotland, has got wider and wider as each year passes.

Tuesday's One-Day Internationals only underlined this as 10,000 fans packed into the new international venue in Dublin to watch their side give England a probing work-out, and in truth snatch defeat from the jaws of victory while at the same time, Scotland were being run ragged by Australia in front of little more than a man and his dog in Edinburgh.

Peter Steindl's side have only beaten Ireland three times in their 10 ODIs against each other, a worrying statistic heading into this weekend's do-or-die encounters. But, they will be confident of coming away from Belfast with the points they need given the hosts may just take their eye off the ball having already secured qualification.

Phil Simmons has the same 14-man squad who were beaten by England in the RSA Challenge to choose from but could make a couple of changes from Tuesday. Trent Johnston is expected to play in what will be his last games in a green jersey on home soil before he retires while Tim Murtagh, who was the pick of the bowlers in Malahide, may be given a rest ahead of the conclusion to the county season.

All-rounder Eddie Richardson could make his debut after carrying the drinks at Malahide at the expense of his club teammate John Mooney but there would be no surprise if the hosts stick to the same side given the winning formula they've established in recent years.

However, the bowling attack has much to prove after a below-par performance against England with Dockrell, Kevin O'Brien, Mooney and Max Sorensen all likely to come under the microscope.

<b>Key Men</b>

Ireland batsman <b>Paul Stirling</b> has the ability to dismantle any bowling attack in the world, something he proved when he smashed Pakistan to all corners on his way to a century in May, and will be determined to make up for a quiet season on the domestic front against a less than potent Scotland attack.

The Scottish side may not contain the household names and experience which Ireland have at their disposal but in <b>Matt Machan</b>, they have one of the most promising all-rounder's in the county game. The Brighton-born left-hander has played six ODIs thus far and is averaging 39.83 with the bat and has taken six wickets.

<b>Ireland</b> (probable): William Porterfield (capt), Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, Niall O'Brien, Gary Wilson (w/k), Kevin O'Brien, Eddie Richardson, Max Sorensen, Trent Johnston, Tim Murtagh, George Dockrell.

<b>Scotland</b> (probable): Hamish Gardiner, Freddie Coleman, Matt Machan, Preston Mommsen (capt), Callum Macleod, Richard Berrington, David Murphy (w/k), Majid Haq, Gordon Goudie, Gordon Drummond, Iain Wardlaw.

<b>Ryan Bailey</b>