The Phoney War starts in Sylhet today when Ireland take on hosts Bangladesh in the first of three one-day internationals that precede a far more important series between the sides that has been confirmed for Chelmsford in early May.

While the Tigers have already qualified for the 50-over World Cup in India later this year, Ireland will need a 3-0 sweep in Essex to have a realistic chance of joining them directly, and avoiding the dog-eat-dog final qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe.

Cricket Ireland confirmed Chelmsford as the venue for the crucial series yesterday (FRI), believing the location provides a better prospect of completing three games than anywhere at home in early May. 

If the points accrued from three abandonments had been enough to secure qualification, the series would probably have been scheduled for Co Tyrone.

With the probability of having to fly to Zimbabwe in June, plus a T20 World Cup qualifier in Edinburgh in late July, the Boys in Green so far have only three T20s, against India in Malahide in August, on home soil this summer. 

But fans will be able to clock up a few frequent flyer points on local flights with up to 19 days of cricket to watch in England and Scotland.

After completing a 3-0 rout of world champions England, Bangladesh will start as red-hot favourites in spin-friendly home conditions today, but Ireland can pick up useful pointers for that all-important World Cup Super Series in May.

“We know that we’re going to have to be at our very best to win out here,” Harry Tector said. “Their spin attack is going be the biggest challenge for us as a batting group, and it’s going to be a test to take wickets throughout the innings on very good pitches.”

Ireland will be without Josh Little and Barry McCarthy in Sylhet, but a third injured paceman, Craig Young, who hasn’t played since July, has flown out to Bangladesh and will be available for the T20 series that follows the ODIs.