Exactly two years after his appointment, Ireland coach John Bracewell finally comes up against his native New Zealand in a triangular one-day international series, also involving Bangladesh, in Dublin.
Former off-spinner Bracewell played 41 Tests and 53 ODIs for New Zealand so it promises to be a special couple of days for the 59-year-old Aucklander when the teams meet on successive Sundays.
Each team will play the other twice over the next fortnight with Ireland facing Bangladesh in the opener at Malahide, near Dublin, on Friday.
The series is another major test for Ireland against two top seven ODI countries, after their historic first two one-day internationals in England last weekend, while Bangladesh and New Zealand are using the matches as valuable warm-ups ahead of the Champions Trophy — they are both in Group A and will meet in Cardiff on June 9.
Bangladesh are on the up — now ranked seventh in the world — and are already targeting qualification for the next World Cup in two years and their prospects will be enhanced if they can win one of their games against the fourth-ranked Kiwis and both encounters against Ireland.
That scenario would actually promote them to sixth in the ODI standings — the top eight at the end of September this year qualify for England 2019.
The Tigers have already enjoyed match action in Ireland with a facile 199-run victory against a second-string Ireland Wolves XI in Belfast on Wednesday, with Sabbir Rahman retiring after reaching a century and Tamim Iqbal hitting 86 in a huge total of 394 for seven.
While Bangladesh, who have already had a week’s training camp in England, have their full Champions Trophy squad in Ireland, the New Zealanders have no fewer than seven players unavailable because of Indian Premier League commitments.
The squad is captained, for the first time, by Tom Latham and two uncapped players are included, Central Districts fast bowler Seth Rance and Northern Districts all-rounder Scott Kuggeleijn.
Neil Wagner is set to play his first ODI, five years after his international debut, while also brought into the one-day squad are fast bowler Hamish Bennett, batsmen Henry Nicholls and Colin Munro and all-rounder George Worker.
“I have worked hard the last few times on consistency and skills and change-ups and a few different deliveries,” Wagner told the ESPN Cricinfo website.
New Zealand still have plenty of experience in their squad with Ross Taylor and Luke Ronchi plus proven performers in Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodi.
Ireland, now on the verge of Test status, have had an underwhelming two years since Bracewell took over as coach and they were beaten 2-0 by England last week.
But the squad will be desperate to prove that their performance at Lord’s, when they scored 243 on Sunday, is a better reflection of their standing than their first-ever ODI in England when they were shot out for just 126 in Bristol last Friday.
Ireland have in-form batsmen in Paul Stirling and captain William Porterfield but bowling again looks to be their Achilles heel.