Ireland's vice-captain and their most prolific run-getter in ODI cricket, Paul Stirling, is looking forward to the upcoming ODIs against United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Afghanistan this month.
The Irish touring party will cross swords with the UAE outfit in four ODIs followed by the three-match series against Afghanistan. The latter is also part of the on-going World Cup Super League.
Speaking on the importance of the Afghanistan series, Paul Stirling stated that Ireland would need to be at their best to overpower Afghanistan. He also said that they will ideally aim to sweep the series to improve their World Cup qualification chances:
"The Afghanistan series is key - they are World Cup qualifying games so they are really important. We've always had good games against Afghanistan - we've beaten them in their own conditions. We will really need to target a 2-1 series victory, if not a 3-0 win," said Paul Stirling.
Ireland have touched down in the Emirates with a youthful squad. Paul Stirling opined that playing against UAE at the associate level offers a great opportunity for youngsters to prove themselves on a bigger stage.
"It's always nice to play teams like UAE because we've been missing those caliber of games in the last number of years. Since our move up in status, we're always playing the big teams - you get carried away in trying to topple the giants. So it's nice to come back to that associate-level - it gives great opportunities to the young lads here," said Paul Stirling.
The 30-year old Ireland opener and former Middlesex and Northamptonshire batsman is relishing the idea of being able to cricket again following the COVID-19 pandemic. He also acknowledged the support that Ireland's cricket team receives from its fans back home and hopes that they can impress their supporters with their performances.
"We just have to get on with it - we're so lucky to play this game, we're thankful we can actually put the sport on and people can watch it. We know we've got great support back home. It's great just to be able to get out there and play cricket again and hopefully put a smile on a few people's faces," said Paul Stirling.
The series-opener between Ireland and UAE will take place on Friday. All seven ODIs will be held at the Sheikh Cricket Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.Published 06 Jan 2021, 16:14 IST