Ireland have been handed a tough draw for the World Cup Qualifiers which get under way in Zimbabwe this March.
The Irish have been pooled in Group A alongside top seeds West Indies, The Netherlands, PNG and the winners of next month’s Division Two tournament in Namibia featuring the hosts, UAE, Canada, Kenya, Oman and Nepal.
Skipper William Porterfield, who will be bidding to play in his and Ireland’s fourth consecutive World Cup, stated: “It’s going to be a really hard-fought tournament with nearly all the sides in with a genuine chance of qualification. There are certainly no ‘gimmees’ in the competition. It’s a pity there are only two places up for grabs.
“We are working hard in the build up to Zimbabwe. We’re currently in the middle of a tri-series with the UAE and Scotland, and we’ll have training camps in Spain and South Africa, where we have further matches planned before going to Zimbabwe.
“We’ve got a good record against the Windies, beating them in the 2015 World Cup, so we’ll take confidence from that. The Netherlands have got some big players back in recent times, so they’ll be tough, while PNG are improving all the time.
“We will be at full strength for the competition, so hopefully if we play to our potential we’ll make it through to the finals and our fourth straight World Cup.”
The top three from each group progress to the Super Sixes where they play the three teams from the other group. The top two in the Super Six phase qualify for the 2019 World Cup.
The competition proper starts on March 4th, with the final scheduled in Harare on March 25th.
Group A: Windies (A1); Ireland (A2); Netherlands (A3); Papua New Guinea (A4); ICC World Cricket League Division 2 (WCL Div.2) winner (A5)
Group B: Afghanistan (B1); Zimbabwe (B2); Scotland (B3); Hong Kong (B4); ICC World Cricket League Division 2 (WCL Div.2) runners-up (B5)
Fixtures (warm-up matches):
Tuesday, 27 February – Afghanistan v Windies, Harare Sports Club (HSC); Hong Kong v Netherlands, Old Hararians (OH); WCL Div.2 (winner) v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), Kwekwe (KK); Zimbabwe v Ireland, Queen’s Sports Club (QSC); Scotland v PNG, Bulawayo Athletic Club (BAC)
Thursday, 1 March – WCL Div.2 (winners) v Windies, Harare Sports Club (HSC); Afghanistan v Netherlands, Old Hararians (OH); Hong Kong v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), Kwekwe (KK); Scotland v Ireland, Queen’s Sports Club (QSC); Zimbabwe v PNG, Bulawayo Athletic Club (BAC)
Tournament Proper (first round):
Sunday, 4 March – PNG v WCL Div.2 winner, HSC; Ireland v Netherlands, OH; Zimbabwe v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), Queens Sports Club (QSC); Afghanistan v Scotland, BAC
Tuesday, 6 March – PNG v Ireland, HSC; Windies v WCL Div.2 (winner), OH; Zimbabwe v Afghanistan, QSC; Scotland v Hong Kong, BAC
Thursday, 8 March – Netherlands v WCL Div.2 (winner), HSC; Windies v PNG, OH; Scotland v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), QSC; Afghanistan v Hong Kong, BAC
Saturday, 10 March – Windies v Ireland, HSC; PNG v Netherlands, OH; Zimbabwe v Hong Kong, QSC; Afghanistan v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), BAC
Monday, 12 March – Windies v Netherlands, HSC; Ireland v WCL Div.2 (winners), OH; Hong Kong v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), QSC; Zimbabwe v Scotland, BAC
Thursday, 15 March – A1 v B1, HSC; A3 v B3, QSC; A5 v B4 (play-off), OH; A4 v B5 (play-off), KK
Friday, 16 March – A2 v B2, HSC
Saturday, 17 March – 9th/10th position play-off, OH; 7th/8th position play-off, KK
Sunday, 18 March – A2 v B3, HSC
Monday, 19 March – A1 v B2, HSC
Tuesday, 20 March – A3 v B1, HSC
Thursday, 22 March – A1 v B3, HSC; A3 v B2, OH
Friday, 23 March – A2 v B1, HSC
Sunday, 25 March – FINAL, HSC