A surprise victory over their high-profile neighbours in Bangalore would be a first at the fourth attempt in one-day internationals.
It would also take William Porterfield’s associate team above Zimbabwe to 10th in the ODI rankings.
More than either of the above, though, Ireland badly need a victory, following their opening Group B loss to Bangladesh, if they are to retain confidence in their ability to reach the quarter-final stage.
Ireland’s resolve will doubtless be tested by England, but Porterfield expects his side to be up to the challenge.
“For any Irish sports team, playing against an English team is always pretty special for us – and especially to people back home,” he said.
“They always want to see us get one over on the English, so I’m sure there’ll be plenty watching back home hoping for a positive result.
“We are going to have to win at least three of the next five games (to qualify for the quarter-finals) – so every game is must-win from here on in,” he said.
“It’s no secret our batting let us down (against Bangladesh).
“We can’t afford to give away a few wickets like that. It’s just a matter of being ‘cricket smart’ when we are out there.
“Nothing dramatic has to change. We’ve just got to be a bit more ruthless with the bat.”
Ireland have several notable performers, not least 18-year-old left-arm spinner George Dockrell.
His performances in last year’s ICC World Twenty20, including against England, grabbed the attention – and he has since been signed by Somerset.
Dockrell’s captain said: “He’s very new to the game; he only came in last year for T20 and was kind of chucked in at the deep end in the West Indies. But he’s taken everything in his stride.”
Porterfield retains great faith too in pace bowler Boyd Rankin, despite figures of nought for 62 in nine overs against Bangladesh.
“He went for a few in Dhaka, but that can happen to anyone,” he said.
“I still think he is one of our main wicket-taking threats. I’m pretty confident he can bounce back.”
Dockrell, Porterfield and Rankin all have current contracts with English counties – and the captain senses Irish cricket is on an upward curve.
“I think we are,” he said. “It’s not just the big tournaments we’re improving in; it’s more and more games against the full members.
“We’re starting to get a squad with a little more depth.
“We have more than 15 – whereas in the past the 15 would pick itself.”
Ireland’s task does not get any easier after today, as they face co-hosts India on Sunday before games against West Indies, South Africa and the Netherlands.
In Group A yesterday, Lasith Malinga claimed six wickets, including a hat-trick, to power Sri Lanka to a comprehensive nine-wicket victory over Kenya in Colombo.