Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie said that the two-match Twenty20 series against world number one side India will be a great advertisement for the game. The Irish, who are ranked 14th, will be aiming to produce a major upset in the Malahide matches today (Sunday) and Tuesday.
"The experience of playing these sort of teams is amazing for the players and Irish cricket fans," said Balbirnie. "They will see how big cricket is in countries like India and it will be a great advertisement for Irish cricket."
Crowds will return to Ireland men's internationals for the first time since 2019 following the Covid-19 pandemic, with today's game already sold out.
Malahide also hosted the last meetings between the teams in 2018 with India comfortably prevailing in another two-game T20 series. Hardik Pandya will captain the tourists while Suryakumar Yadav returns from injury and there is a recall for Sanju Samson.
Regular captain Rohit Sharma, star batsman Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have been rested for the tour. Ireland have handed first call-ups to North West Warriors duo Conor Olphert and Stephen Doheny as they chase a first win over India.
India will travel for a tour of England following the Malahide matches while Ireland will continue their busy summer schedule with six games against New Zealand. The main focus for Ireland this year is the T20 World Cup in October, with the India series the start of preparations for Australia.
"Going into that World Cup, we want the guys to know their roles and know them pretty well so we're not tinkering with things going into the tournament," added Balbirnie. "We want to pick our 15 best players and we want to give the guys the opportunities to stake claims and not put them in and out of teams as that's hard for continuity as a player and as a team."