Focus back on ODI cricket as England and Sri Lanka launch World Cup preparations
Dubai: One month after the conclusion of the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014, action in international cricket resumes this week, with One-Day International (ODI) cricket in focus.
Dublin will host two ODIs between 1996 world champion Sri Lanka and the giant-killer of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, Ireland, on 6th and 8th of May.
Then on 9th May in Aberdeen, three-time ICC Cricket World Cup finalist England will square-off against Scotland, which qualified for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 by winning the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014 earlier this year in New Zealand.
With just nine months to go before the start of the event, which runs between 14 February and 29 March, these three ODIs mean that the first phase of build-up for all sides has well and truly begun.
While England and Sri Lanka have more to lose, Ireland and Scotland have plenty to gain from their respective series.
Ireland currently sits in 11th place on the Reliance ICC ODI Team Rankings with 34 ratings points, and trails third-ranked Sri Lanka by 78 ratings points. Because the rankings are weighted to reflect this difference, Ireland will gain points if it wins even one match in the series.
Scotland, currently unranked, has an opportunity to inch closer to getting on to the main rankings table. However, to make that happen, it will have to beat England.
To get on to the main rankings table, Scotland needs to either win two ODIs against Full Members, or achieve one win in an ODI against a Full Member and also win more than 60 per cent of ODIs against other Associates.
Meanwhile, fans in Dublin and Aberdeen will get to see some of the biggest names in action during the ODIs to be played there.
Among the stars in the top 20 of the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI Batsmen likely to be seen in action are Eoin Morgan (15th) and Alastair Cook (20th).
Among the bowlers inside the top 20 of the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI Bowlers likely to be seen in action are James Anderson (eighth) and Angelo Mathews (16th).
Sri Lanka captain Mathews also starts the series against Ireland as the number-two ranked all-rounder on the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI All-rounders.