Andrew Balbirnie: Ireland captain bullish for busy ODI schedule in Abu Dhabi


Afghanistan's Samiullah Shenwari in action against Ireland
The Ireland-Afghanistan series will be part of the World Cup Super League

Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie is confident going into seven one-day games against United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi this month.

Four games against UAE are followed by the Afghanistan series, with the action taking place between 8-23 January.

“The UAE is a nice place to tour – the last time we played Afghanistan here in ODIs we beat them,” said Balbirnie.

“We can draw a lot of confidence from that, as there are guys here that were involved in that series.”

Ireland arrived in Abu Dhabi last Sunday and have held their first outdoor training session before the opener against the hosts.

The Irish also face UAE on 10, 12 and 14 January at the Zayed Cricket Stadium before taking on Afghanistan on 18, 21 and 23 January.

Extra incentive

The series against Afghanistan will be part of the World Cup Super League – essentially qualifier matches for the 2023 World Cup.

“I think we have a good chance, we’re going to go out and try to win all three games in that series – that’s the aim we have for any series in this World Cup Super League,” added the top-order batsman.

“But to do that here, we need to play good cricket, and that will need to start with the four-match series against the UAE.

“There’s no doubt the Afghan spinners are a big threat – they have been ever since they burst onto the scene. But the beauty of playing Afghanistan quite regularly is that you get used to their spinners and understand better how to play them and score off them.

“They’ll still be a threat in these conditions but I feel that we have the skillset in our batting line-up to counteract that.”

Ireland will be in action for the the first time since the dramatic win over England in August.



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