Ireland chase historic Test win on Bangladesh Tour
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Ireland begins a mini tour of South Asia this week chasing a historic first Test win as well as valuable white-ball practice ahead of the ODI World Cup in India later this year.
The tourists led by skipper Andrew Balbirnie will play three one-day internationals in Bangladesh from Saturday, followed by three Twenty20s.
From April 4 they will contest a one-off Test in Dhaka, only Ireland's fourth Test match ever and their first in more than three years. That is followed by two Tests in Sri Lanka.
Ireland gained Test status in 2017 but have only played three Test matches, losing them all.
They did though give England a scare at Lord's in 2019, skittling the hosts for 85 runs in their first innings.
Later that year Ireland cancelled a home Test against Bangladesh because of what their CEO Warren Deutrom described as "financial headwinds" since obtaining Test status.
For the white-ball games in Bangladesh, the Irish will bank on the experience of Balbirnie and Curtis Campher, both of whom played in this year's Bangladesh Premier League T20 tournament.
"It was really beneficial for me," Balbirnie said of his stint with Khulna Titans.
"I was there to see first-hand a couple of their players, some of the grounds and conditions we're going to come up against in the next week or two."
Ireland have been recent giant-killers in T20 cricket. At last year's World Cup they knocked out two-time champions West Indies and beat eventual champions England in a group match.
Bangladesh will be a tough proposition, however, having this week whitewashed England in a T20 series.
The games on Bangladesh's low-bounce wickets -- similar to those of India -- will be key to Ireland's preparations for the 50-over World Cup, although they still need to qualify.
Ireland started the year with a 2-1 T20 series defeat in Zimbabwe, followed by a drawn ODI series there.
They have included Zimbabwe-born wicketkeeper-batsman P.J. Moor in their Test team after the 32-year-old completed a nationality switch.
Bangladesh, led by Tamim Iqbal in ODIs and Shakib Al Hasan in Tests and T20s, are a force at home.
But after their recent T20 sweep, the first time Bangladesh have won a series against England in any format, Shakib warned against complacency.
"Ireland will be another challenge for us," said the all-rounder.
"Ireland is a very good side in T20 format. We started to do well (beating England), we have to continue this performance."
Bangladesh will be without former captain Mahmudullah Riyad in the ODI series after he was rested.
Tamim will lead a strong batting line-up which includes Shakib, Liton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim.
Mustafizur Rahman spearheads the pace bowling, while Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Shakib remain key to the spin attack.
The hosts lost their ODI series to England 2-1, their first 50-over series defeat at home for nearly seven years.