Pakistan, Ireland go toe-to-toe in inaugural T20I series today

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DNA

DUBLIN: The Pakistan men’s cricket team is set to kick off its Europe tour with the first of three T20Is against Ireland scheduled to take place on Friday (today). 

The remaining two matches will also take place at Castle Avenue on Sunday and Tuesday, before the team heads to Headingley, Leeds, on Wednesday for a series of four T20Is against England.

Following the England series, with matches scheduled at Headingley (May 22), Birmingham (May 25), Cardiff (May 28), and The Oval, London (May 30), both the teams will head to the T20I World Cup 2024. 

Pakistan will launch their campaign against the United States in Dallas on June 6.

This marks the first time Ireland will host Pakistan for a T20I series. The two sides have previously met only once in the T20I World Cup 2009 where Pakistan won by 39 runs with Kamran Akmal receiving the player of the match award for his 51-ball 57 and two stumpings.

Interestingly, both teams are in the same group for the T20I World Cup 2024 and will face each other in Florida on June 16. Apart from the two sides, India, USA, and Canada are also in the same group, with the top two teams advancing to the second stage.

‘We have clarity on game plans’: Azhar Mahmood

Pakistan head coach Azhar Mahmood said that their preparations for the T20I World Cup began with the home series against New Zealand and now it’s all about putting the final touches on those preparations.

“We have clarity on our game plans, strategies and combinations. It’s about bringing everything together before we arrive in the United States,” he said.

Azhar said that the team has only played Ireland once, hence, they will be a relatively new opponent for Pakistan. 

“However, any team in T20 cricket can be dangerous as the match can swing in one over. The three T20Is will provide us with good information about their players and how they approach T20 cricket,” added Mahmood. 

Meanwhile, fast bowler Mohammad Amir will miss the first T20I due to delays in the issuance of his visa. He is expected to join the side on Friday.

Squads

Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Amir (unavailable for first T20I), Mohammad Rizwan, Muhammad Irfan Khan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Usman Khan.

Ireland: Paul Stirling (captain), Mark Adair, Ross Adair, Andrew Balbirnie, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Graham Hume, Barry McCarthy, Neil Rock, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Ben White, Craig Young