Nagpur: Last edition`s semifinalist New Zealand and surprise package Ireland will square off for a day-night warm-up game ahead of the World Cup at VCA`s Jamtha stadium here on saturday.
Though the match does not have official status, it gives Ireland a chance to settle scores with the Kiwis, who had thrashed them by a huge margin of 129 runs when they met in a Super Eights match of the quadrennial event in the Caribbean four years ago.
New Zealand has not done well in the recent past having been white washed 0-5 each by India and Bangladesh in the sub-continent recently. A win will surely boost the morale of the Kiwis ahead of the mega event.
On the other hand, Ireland, who shocked Pakistan in West Indies in the league stage and qualified for Super Eight, have been doing steady progress. Though they are termed as cricketing minnows, the Irish side has in it to shock a better ranked team on their day. They came pretty close in upsetting England and West Indies in a 50-over and a T20 game
Ireland won the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2008 and ICC World Cup Qualifier 2009 and qualified for 2009 World Twenty20. They have qualified for the 2011 World Cup by beating Canada in a one-sided final of the qualifying tournament in South Africa. Among the associate nations, Ireland is the best performing team since the last World Cup.
Cricket New Zealand has appointed former India coach John Wright as coach of its team and his knowledge about conditions in the sub-continent may help the team.
Moreover, they play an all-important World Cup game against Australia at the same venue 12 days later and this practice game may help them.