DHAKA: Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie took some pressure off his teammates Friday by saying that he was fine with losing in Bangladesh -- so long as they enjoyed themselves.
Balbirnie leads Ireland Saturday through the first of three one-day internationals at Sylhet -- valuable white-ball series ahead of this year’s ODI World Cup in India.
Bangladesh start as rank favourites having won seven of their past 10 ODIs against Ireland, including all four at home, but the captain said he was not benchmarking the tourists’ performance on victories.
“I think our message to the group over a number of years now has been the performance... that’s the thing we are trying to improve on,” Balbirnie told reporters Friday.
“If we win a game, great, if we don’t that’s fine as long as we are playing a certain way and we are enjoying our cricket,” he added.
The ODI series will be followed by three Twenty20s and Ireland’s first Test in more than three years -- and only the fourth since the minnows were granted Test status in 2017.
“It will be a challenge for our group no doubt going from one-day to T20 to Test matches. But that’s what we have to do in international cricket,” Balbirnie said.
“We have to sort of back ourselves, back each other as optimum as possible, no matter what the format is. And we can play some good cricket along the way,” he added.
Bangladesh are fresh from their 3-0 T20 sweep at home against England -- their first series victory against the side in any format -- but are battling some injury concerns.
Skipper Tamim Iqbal is sick with a viral infection and may miss the first ODI.
Backup opener Zakir Hasan was ruled out with a thumb injury, while all-rounder Mehidy Hasan injured his eyes during Friday training and had to seek hospital treatment.
The hosts have called up uncapped Rony Talukdar for injured Zakir.