Kevin O’Brien returns for Zimbabwe, Namibia tour

Allrounder Kevin O’Brien has recovered from a hamstring injury and has been included in the Ireland squad for their upcoming tour of Zimbabwe and Namibia. Ireland have picked a full-strength team for the tour and wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter’s inclusion for the Zimbabwe leg is the only difference from the squad that played Australia in August.

O’Brien last played a match during the ICC World T20 Qualifier in July and the injury kept him out of Ireland’s one-off ODI against Australia in Belfast.

Ireland are scheduled to play a three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe from October 9 and will also play a four-day match against Zimbabwe A starting on October 17. They will then travel to Windhoek for their second-round Intercontinental Cup fixture against Namibia, which starts on October 24.

William Porterfield, Ireland’s captain, was happy with the fitness of the squad and said his team was prepared for the challenge of facing Zimbabwe. The two teams have played each other only five times in ODIs since their first meeting at the 2007 World Cup ended in a tie. Their most recent encounter was in the 2015 World Cup where Ireland defeated Zimbabwe by five runs in Hobart. Ireland are currently ranked 10th on the ICC ODI rankings, one place ahead of Zimbabwe.

“It’s fantastic that everyone is fit and raring to go for the tour,” Porterfield said. “We know it’s going to be a good test but it’ll be one we’re well prepared for.

“We’ve been involved in some great games with Zimbabwe over the years and I’m certain this series will bring more of the same. I don’t think there’s too much between the sides and I guess the ICC rankings reflect that. We have a lot of experienced campaigners in our squad, and I’m confident we’ll do well in the games.”

Porterfield also said that his team would aim to build on a good start to the Intercontinental Cup, when they take on Namibia. The side will be aiming for their second win in a row in Windhoek, after they beat UAE in the first-round match in June.

Squad: William Porterfield (captain), Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, John Mooney, Tim Murtagh, Andrew McBrine, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Stuart Poynter (for Zimbabwe only), Max SorensenPaul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.

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