Having beaten the Netherlands in their opening Group A game at the Cricket World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe on Sunday, Ireland men's side now turn their attention to Papua New Guinea (PNG) on Tuesday in Harare.
Ireland brushed aside a tricky Netherlands outfit, winning by 93 runs to get their campaign off to the best possible start and now face PNG, who lost by 56 runs to the UAE in their opening game.
PNG are recognised as one of the weakest team in the group and it would be a huge surprise if Ireland were to lose Tuesday’s game, as William Porterfield’s side head into that match on the back of eight straight one day international wins.
Ireland will be looking for a decent all-round performance against PNG and then turn their concentration fully on the big game in Group A when they face the West Indies at the Harare Sports Club next Sunday.
The Windies, who have lost many of their top players before these qualifiers, choosing instead to play in the Pakistan T20 series, have their opening encounter against the UAE tomorrow before facing Ireland whose final group game is against the UAE on Tuesday, 12 March.
There was a surprise on the opening day in Group B where Scotland pulled off a huge shock by defeating highly rated Afghanistan thanks to a superb innings from opening batsman Calum MacLeod, who remained unbeaten on 157.
Captain Porterfield, naturally, is taking nothing for granted ahead of tomorrow's encounter.
"In terms of other results, our view is that this is the first game of the tournament – we can’t look past our next game against PNG."
"Our focus is to come out of our group with the maximum number of points as possible, so it is kind of irrelevant at this stage how others performed."
In fact, the last time Ireland faced PNG was back in February 2016 in a T20 International where PNG won by 11 runs.
Ireland were in something akin to a slump at that point under former coach John Bracewell, but the hiring of new coach Graham Ford seems to have galvanised his team and the likes of Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, Niall O’Brien and bowler Boyd Rankin seem to have enjoyed a new lease of life.
Having gained full member and test status last year, it would be hugely disappointing if Ireland were not to make the World Cup next year, but with only two teams making the finals in England in 2019, the qualifier series in Harare is a tough route.
After the group stages the top six teams from Groups A and B will advance to the Super Six stage with the top two making the final and the ultimate goal of qualifying for next year’s World Cup where they will joined by the eight nations who have already pre-qualified.
Wins against the sides that qualify for the second stage are important as results between the progressing teams are carried forward to the Super Six.
Beating The Netherlands on Sunday was a good start but Ireland know there are stiffer challenges ahead.