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23-Jun-2012 04:31:00 GMT
Ireland v Australia, ODI, Stormont

Ireland The Next Test for Australia

Belfast: The next phase of Australia's preparation for the upcoming five-match one-day series with England takes place in Northern Ireland on Saturday.

And, according to opener Dave Warner, the tourists look set to continue to tinker with their batting order when they take on Ireland in Belfast.

Warner's regular opening partner Shane Watson was relegated to No.3 during the Aussies' 102-run win over Leicestershire on Thursday, making way for wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.

And there could be more surprises in store on Saturday and Tuesday (against Essex) as Australia try to figure out how best to cover the loss of veteran Mike Hussey who pulled out of the tour after the premature birth of his fourth child.

However, the Aussies are in danger of not having much time to experiment with showers expected to greatly affect their clash with Ireland.

But if the weather does permit a match to take place, Australia will have to be on guard if they want to avoid an upset loss.

The Irish head into this encounter with a full head of steam, in the shortest form of the game at least, on the back of a 10-match Twenty20 winning streak as they swept all before them on the way to the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier title in March.

Ireland have a strong squad to pick from full of players with county experience. Tim Murtagh could make his international debut while all eyes will again be on Kevin O'Brien. Ed Joyce, meanwhile, has a hundred against Australia when he played for England.

Paul Stirling, who top-scored at the tournament with 357 runs at 44.62, looms as the man to stop with the bat while Boyd Rankin was the most destructive Irishman with the ball, claiming 15 scalps at a measly 11.06.

While Australia provide a significant jump in class as an opponent compared to the likes of Afghanistan, The Netherlands and Namibia, Ireland will no doubt back themselves and Warner is wary of what they are capable of.

Michael Clarke did not reveal any team news after arriving in Belfast and wanted to assess conditions, but he will be keen to give as many players as possible a run before the England series.

Teams from

Ireland AR Cusack, GH Dockrell, DT Johnston, EC Joyce, JF Mooney, TJ Murtagh, KJ O'Brien, NJ O'Brien, WTS Porterfield (captain), MC Sorensen, PR Stirling, AR White, GC Wilson (wk)

Australia GJ Bailey, MJ Clarke (captain), PJ Cummins, XJ Doherty, PJ Forrest, BW Hilfenhaus, DJ Hussey, MG Johnson, B Lee, CJ McKay, JL Pattinson, SPD Smith, MS Wade (wk), DA Warner, SR Watson

Pitch and conditions
Sadly for Cricket Ireland, who put in huge effort for these marquee international fixtures, the forecast is poor for Saturday. If they do get play expect the pitch to be on the slow side.

Stats and trivia
When the teams played each other in Dublin in 2010 Australia won by 39 runs but not before a fright as Paul Stirling and William Porterfield put on 80 in 10 overs.
Michael Clarke made a duck in that fixture - stumped off Alex Cusack.
Brett Lee needs another five ODI wickets to pass Glenn McGrath's mark of 381.

Match facts
Saturday June 23, 2012
Start time 10.45 local (0945 GMT)

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