Afghanistan, Ireland and Scotland have arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to participate in a triangular series, which will take place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from 8 to 19 January, as part of their ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 preparations.
The series is part of the ICC’s High Performance Programme (HPP), which is targeted at assisting the qualifiers prepare for cricket’s pinnacle 50-over tournament.
Afghanistan and Scotland, who are in Pool A of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and will play each other in Dunedin on 26 February, will meet in the opening match of the tri-series on Thursday at the ICC Academy in a competition.
On Saturday, Afghanistan and Ireland will go head to head at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in a day/night fixture, which will start at 1400 (local time), while the same venue will host the final match of the first round between European rivals Ireland and Scotland. Spectator entry for all series matches is free of charge.
The series will be played in a double-league format, with each match carrying One-Day International (ODI) status.
Afghanistan, Ireland and Scotland completed the acclimatisation phase of their ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 preparations in Australia and New Zealand in September-October, and played a series of matches against local sides. Afghanistan played matches in Canberra, Perth and Tauranga and Perth, Ireland played games in Brisbane, Canberra, Christchurch, the Gold Coast and Hamilton, while Scotland played in Christchurch, Hobart and Maroochydore.
Looking ahead to the series, Scotland’s head coach Grant Bradburn said: “This series is obviously important for us to gain valuable match-time as we build towards February. The last few months have allowed the squad to hone our skills, whilst building a strong team environment.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity to test ourselves against Ireland and Afghanistan and I know the guys are itching to get out on the park.”
Ireland coach and former West Indies opener Phil Simmons also spoke about the importance of the series. “It’s a vital series as we look to fine-tune our preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. The facilities and climate are first-class in Dubai, and it's been a happy hunting ground for Irish cricket in recent years,” he said.
“We’ve just announced our World Cup 15, so there will be a lot of healthy competition within our squad to state their case for a place in the starting line-up.
“We've developed a great rivalry over the years with both Scotland and Afghanistan and I’m certain it’ll be a tough, keenly contested tri-series, and one which we're all looking forward to,” he concluded.
Afghanistan - Mohammad Nabi (captain), Nawroz Mangal, Asghar Stanikzai, Samiullah Shenwari, Afsar Zazai (wk), Najibullah Zadran, Nasir Jamal, Mirwais Ashraf, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Javed Ahmadi, Usman Ghani, Izatullah Dawlatzai and Hasmatullah Shahidi.
Ireland - William Porterfield (Captain), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Andrew McBrine, John Mooney, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O'Brien, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson and Craig Young.
Scotland - Preston Mommsen (captain), Hamish Gardiner, Matthew Machan, Josh Davey, Rob Taylor, Calum Macleod, Matthew Cross, Iain Wardlaw, Ali Evans, Gavin Main, Freddie Coleman, Richie Berrington, Kyle Coetzer, Michael Leask, Majid Haq and Saffy Sharif