This week, when Ireland play Bangladesh in the final series of the current cycle, it will be decided who finishes in eighth place on the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League standings and automatically qualifies for this year’s ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
Currently, South Africa is clinging to eighth place by the barest of margins, but the Proteas have already played all of their Super League games and, should results go against them, could still be passed by Ireland and sent to the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe in June and July.
Having accrued 98 points from their Super League games, the Proteas will hold onto the last spot for direct qualification unless Ireland defeats Bangladesh in three straight games starting on Tuesday in Chelmsford.
Ireland is currently ranked 11th with 68 points, but after three victories over Bangladesh, the European team will tie South Africa for first place with 98 points.
Even with three victories, Ireland may still not be able to overtake South Africa; in order to do so, Andy Balbirnie’s team needs to improve their net run rate and avoid conceding penalties.
Josh Little, a star pacer who has been given permission by the Gujarat Titans to take a brief break from the Indian Premier League and play the three matches in England, is back, giving Ireland encouragement.
Little, who made his IPL debut this year, has six wickets from eight games. Gujarat director of cricket Vikram Solanki said the left-armer leaves the team with their best wishes to join up with his international teammates.
“We wish Josh the best as he heads back to represent Ireland in the ODIs,” said Solanki.
“Once the ODI series is over, we look forward to welcoming him back,” the statement continued. “He has had a good run in his first Indian Premier League.”
Although the Asian nation could still overtake England and India and finish as high as second with three victories against Ireland, Bangladesh is currently in fourth place in the Super League standings and has already secured their spot at this year’s World Cup.
Ireland squad: Andy Balbirnie (c), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Stephen Doheny, Fionn Hand, Graham Hume, Josh Little, Andy McBrine, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Craig Young
Bangladesh squad: Tamim Iqbal (c), Litton Das, Rony Talukdar, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Yasir Ali, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam, Ebadot Hossain, Shoriful Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Mrittunjoy Chowdhury