Ireland will get their first-ever overseas Test match underway in the early hours of Friday morning and for Irish cricket stalwarts Paul Stirling and Boyd Rankin, it promises to be a very special moment.
Friday sees the first day of the Test match against Afghanistan at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in India.
Ireland are currently six weeks into their tour of Oman and India but after a series of T20 games and One Day Internationals, the Test match with Afghanistan is a big step up.
Rankin, the 6’8" pace bowler who debuted for Ireland in 2003 at the age of 19 is ready for what, if selected, will be his second Test match appearance for Ireland.
"It’s been a long tour so far and it’s been pretty hectic since arriving in India," he said. "I’ve been involved in all the games, but the body feels pretty good at the moment.
"Saying that, the Test will be tough work for everyone, especially not playing any longer format cricket going into the match."
"As an experience, it’s going to be hard to beat the feeling around Ireland’s first Test last year, but it’s always very special to play a Test match for your country and it will always have a buzz about it. Once we take the field it will be down to business of trying to win a game of cricket."
"Our first Test match at Malahide was a very special moment. And this Test will be also very special. Test cricket is something I grew up with, watching it on TV when I was younger. I think every Test match for an Irish cricketer will give you a buzz and something which shouldn’t be taken for granted."
Ireland were beaten by Pakistan at Malahide last year in their first ever full Test match, but while Stirling is happy to be part of history, he’s eager to get the better of Afghanistan as a burgeoning rivalry between the two nations continues to grow.
"I think there will always be something special about every Test match we play in," he said.
"The rivalry between these two teams is what sets this one apart from others, both sides will go in believing they can come out on top.
"Test cricket will always be different to the other formats. There is nothing better for a player than celebrating with team and staff after a hard earned victory, so I can only imagine it would taste even sweeter after a Test match. Everyone will want to be part of that first win which can be this week if we play our best cricket over the five days."