Ireland have been pitted against Bangladesh in their opening game of the 2011 World Cup. The game takes place in Dhaka, where on home soil Bangaldesh will be a much tougher opponent than the team beaten by Ireland in both the 2007 World Cup in Barbados, and during the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 at Trent Bridge.
The game takes place on Friday February 25, and five days later it's old foes England who provide the opposition for the Irish in Bangalore. It will be the fourth time the sides will have met, with Ireland yet to taste victory, although they came periliously close to beating them in August, when they lost by just three runs at Stormont.
Ireland stay in Bangalore for a clash with host country India on Sunday March 6. They then move on to Mohali for a clash with West Indies on Friday March 11. That will see Ireland coach Phil Simmons face the country for whom he played 143 One Day Internationals and 26 Tests.
South Africa are next up for the Irish in Kolkata on Tuesday March 15, while three days later, Ireland conclude the group stages with a tie against fellow Associate The Netherlands, also in Kolkata.
Ireland skipper William Porterfield is confident that his side can give another good account of themselves at the highest level, following their qualification for the Super 8 phase at the last two tournaments, "It's a tough opener for us. We saw just over 18 months ago how difficult a proposition Bangladesh are in their own back yard when we lost 3-0, but we'll be much better prepared come the 2011 World Cup. It's all going to be about getting acclimatised to the conditions on the sub-continent."
"I know we are currently in the process of getting our itinerary finalised for next year, and we're hoping to get to the sub-continent at least once and probably twice before the 2011 tournament. We'll be working hard as we know it's going to be difficult with the group we've been given, but if we play to our full potential, we know we have the ability to win games and reach the last eight. I see no reason why we can't make it three in a row in terms of getting through to the final stages."
"There's a lot of big games there which is what you'd expect. Not only do we play Bangladesh on their home soil, but that's a massive clash with India as well. It's going to be an incredible experience playing them in front of a capacity crowd of their fans. The England game is one which all the players relish, while I'm sure Phil (Simmons) will look forward to the West Indies game as a former player. It's always a challenge when you take on South Africa with the talent at their disposal, but we've acquitted ourselves well against all the top sides in the past. Our final game with The Netherlands will be keenly contested. We've had some great tussles with them in recent years, and I'm sure the World Cup will be no different."
"The last two campaigns on the world stage has given the squad a belief, and we know what we can do. We have assembled a pretty talented and experienced squad, and I see no reason why we can't be competitive and reach the latter stages."
Ireland's fixtures in full are as follows:
- Friday 25 February 2011: Bangladesh v Ireland (Dhaka)
- Wednesday 2 March: England v Ireland (Bangalore)
- Sunday 6 March: India v Ireland (Bangalore)
- Friday 11 March: West Indies v Ireland (Mohali)
- Tuesday 15 March: South Africa v Ireland (Kolkata)
- Friday 18 March: Ireland v Netherlands (Kolkata)
The quarter finals take place from March 23-26, followed by the semi finals on March 29 and 30, with the final taking place in Mumbai on April 2.