Having shown great fortitude to dig out a win against the UAE in the second of their One Day Internationals on Tuesday last in Abu Dhabi, the Ireland men's cricket team now face their deadliest foes, Afghanistan in the first of three World Cup qualifiers tomorrow (6am start Irish time).

Ireland have already played three games in the world series league, a 2-1 series defeat to England in Southampton last August and now face the Afghans, who knocked the Irish out of the last World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe in 2018. 

"Afghanistan have been our foes for a number of years, we have played them a lot," said Irish captain Andy Balbirnie

"We know each other pretty well, they beat us in the final of the last World Cup qualifying competition (in Zimbabwe) which was a tough loss to take, but this is a whole new ball game and we have the confidence of a win (against the UAE) on the ground we will be playing them on,"

"But I just want this team to go out and express themselves because if you get into a hole against this attack there is no hiding place.

"(But) If we come out fighting, I'm confident we can get a result." 

The ICC, the world governing body has set up a series of round robin games involving the world's top cricketing nations with Ireland in with the likes of England, Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies, all striving to qualify for the 2023 World Cup finals in India. 

The league features 13 teams, the dozen full members of the International Cricket Council, which includes Ireland, plus the Netherlands. 

The plan is for each team to play an ODI series against eight of the other 12 teams, four series at home and four away with the top seven joining India in the finals. 

The remaining two places will be determined by another qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe. 

You want to get as many points as you can and we will be disappointed if we don't get 30

Ireland are likely to be unchanged for the first of the three games against Afghanistan from the side that beat the UAE as the Irish skipper confirmed that veteran Kevin O'Brien will continue to open the batting with Paul Stirling with Gareth Delany now dropped down the order. 

Simi Singh who scored his maiden 50 and who took five wickets against the UAE, is certain to retain his place

"You want to get as many points as you can and we will be disappointed if we don't get 30," Balbirnie added.

"But we are going to have to do it for three games, they come thick and fast, and any points we get will be vital in our quest to qualify." 

Cricket Ireland agreed to defer the games due to the late arrival of the Afghanistan squad in the UAE, with each match postponed by three days. 

The sides did meet in a 13-aside practice fixture last Saturday which Afghanistan won

All matches will be played at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, with a start time of 10am local time, 6am Irish time. 

Ireland v Afghanistan series:

1st ODI, 21 January

2nd ODI, 24 Janaury

3rd ODI, 26 Janaury