Ireland vs South Africa 1st ODI Preview: Ireland look to produce A game against in-form Proteas
The Andrew Balbirnie-led side will have to be on the top of their game to challenge South Africa who are coming on the back of a thrilling 3-2 series victory against West Indies, albeit in the T20 format.
LIVE SCORES - Ireland vs South Africa 1st ODI
30 Super League points up for grabs
There are no more dead rubbers in ODI cricket with the ICC men's World Cup Super League points table providing context to all series. Recently, England shied away from experimenting with their playing XI despite leading by 2-0 even when they did not have a looming threat against a weak Sri Lankan side in order to maintain their top standing in the ODI World Cup super league points table.
Both teams, particularly South Africa, will not like to drop points and then have to compete in the qualifiers to make it to the next edition of the ODI World Cup.
Paul Stirling crucial for Ireland's fortunes
The last time Ireland took the field in ODI cricket was against Afghanistan in the UAE, a series which they lost 3-0. The biggest positive for them though was the form of Paul Stirling who smashed 285 runs from three innings at an average of 95 and a strike rate of 97.94, hitting 27 fours and 10 sixes.
Lorcan Tucker also scored at an average in excess of 40. Curtis Campher continued to impress with crucial contributions with both bat and ball.
Andy McBrine was the top wicket taker for Ireland with 6 scalps from 3 matches, including a 5-wicket haul. Simi Singh relished the spinning surfaces of the UAE and took 5 wickets from 3 games. Craig Young picked up three wickets from as many matches.
Ireland buoyed by Campher's return
All-rounder Campher is back after his knee surgery he had an exceptional series against England in July-August 2020 where he scored 127 runs from just two innings and chipped in with 5 wickets as well. If he is back to full fitness, Campher will be a crucial player for Ireland in the series.
"The World Cup Super League series against South Africa represents our first such fixtures on home soil, and while a tough challenge awaits, we are confident the squad we have selected provides Graham Ford and Andrew Balbirnie with plenty of options," Ireland selector Andrew White noted.
"The sustained improvement of George Dockrell's batting has provided us solidity and experience in the middle order, while it has been great to see our bowling strike force performing well in recent IP50 matches and at the two recent T20 Festivals. We're delighted to welcome back Curtis Campher from injury - I know he's raring to go after over a month out of the game."
Proteas have momentum on their side
South Africa have arrived in Ireland after a thrilling 3-2 win against a very strong West Indies side, albeit in the shortest format of international cricket. Regardless, they will carry a lot of confidence with them.
The Ireland batsmen will have a tough time facing the quality pace bowling attack comprising Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Wiaan Mulder or Andile Phehlukwayo to assist them.
de Kock, pacers hungry for more
Quinton de Kock had an exceptional run in the T20 Series against West Indies, making three consecutive half centuries. He ended up as the top run scorer in the series. Another batter who found form against West Indies was Aiden Markram as the youngster played a couple of exciting knocks.
Rassie van der Dussen will bounce back to form shortly, but the likes of Temba Bavuma and David Miller have to pull up their socks for South Africa to be a lot more consistent.
The last time South Africa played an ODI series was against Pakistan which they lost by 1-2.
South Africa may be miles ahead in terms of quality and form but expect Ireland to dish out their best in their home conditions, despite the lack of match practice.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
Ireland - Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie (c), William Porterfield, Harry Tector, Curtis Campher, Lorcan Tucker (wk), Mark Adair, Simi Singh, Andy McBrine, Joshua Little, Craig Young
South Africa - Quinton de Kock (wk), Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma (c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder/Andile Phehlukwayo, George Linde, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi
© Cricket World 2021