The Ireland Men’s cricket team has arrived in India for the three-match T20 International series against Afghanistan, and captain Andrew Balbirnie sees the series as a critical piece in the squad’s preparation for the T20 World Cup in late 2020.
The first match of the series on Friday also represents the 1,000th match across all formats played by an Irish men’s team since its first ‘capped’ match in 1855.
Speaking at the team hotel, Balbirnie said: “It’’s always special to lead an Ireland team out — I haven’’t done it a lot, but doing it for the first time in the Caribbean was the proudest moment of my career to date.
“The 1,000th game is a testament to everyone involved in Irish cricket through the years, and all the work that has been done behind the scenes — we as players are just very fortunate to go out there and play in the 1,000th game.
“There have been so many memorable game in the past, so our job is to make sure there are just as many memorable games in the future.
“All of the T20s we play leading into the World Cup are important, I’’ve stressed that with the guys. We’’ve got so many opportunities to play top teams in this format, so going into the World Cup at the end of the year we should be as prepared as we have ever been.
“The guys know there are plenty of opportunities to impress, to stake a claim and book a ticket on that flight — and hopefully put in performances to win us games. But at the end of the day it’s about preparing for that World Cup, with the aim of qualifying out of the group stage, then seeing how we go in the next stage.”