A year and a day since they last played at home, Ireland face the ultimate challenge with the visit of India to a sold-out Malahide for the first of three T20 internationals.

Since that series-clinching victory against Afghanistan at Stormont, Ireland have played 36 matches, including two World Cup qualifying tournaments, with the crowning glory last month’s progress to next summer’s T20 global event in the USA and West Indies.

As interim captain Paul Stirling explained at his pre-series press conference yesterday, though, the difference between the games in Edinburgh and Malahide is, literally, worlds apart – and not just because of the opposition.

“Those (qualifying) competitions are proper pressure cookers, there is so much on every game, only the result matters. It’s a very different feeling going forward this week,” he said.

“This is the highest level possible, the standard of the cricket they play for such a long time, in the IPL and the national team, is as good as it gets, so we know what we going to come up against. In the underdog scenario, though, it can release you to play your best cricket.

“It’s very different to what we came up against last month in Scotland, with pressure on every game and being favourites going into most of them, so that has flipped this week and we are just looking forward to seeing what we can deliver.

"There is slightly less on the end results this week. Everyone wants to get to a World Cup, we feel we should be at World Cups so to tick that off  was an amazing feeling. We now begin a journey playing with as much with freedom as we possibly can albeit against the best team in the world."

While the India squad averages more than 50 IPL games per player, Ireland have, finally, one of their own who had the experience of playing in the world’s most high-profile franchise tournament and Stirling admits he has already been picking the brains of Josh Little as Ireland prepare to come up against the Indian stars.

“Josh has been really helpful over the last few days and will be during the games,” said the skipper. “A lot of people will be asking for snippets that he can help us with. It doesn’t make (winning the game) easier but first-hand experience instead of having to rely on video analysis is really helpful.”

Stirling also has the memory of the last game between the teams, just 14 months ago, also in Malahide when Ireland lost by four runs.

“I remember it really well, there was such a buzz going on with Mark Adair needing to hit the last ball for six to have a famous victory. As a team were just happy to be back playing in home conditions, not just against India but to have our home support backing us in these three games.

“It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere, it always is when the stands are up and full at Malahide, but it’s just great to back playing here, a ground we are used to and where results could have been very special over the last couple of years so will be looking at causing another upset.”

“Unfortunately, the weather forecast is in Stirling’s words ‘iffy’ for tomorrow so there were no clues to the make-up of the side, which could include up to eight of the side that ran India so close last time.

“Hopefully we play tomorrow no matter how long the game is, and get three games in,” added Stirling, because we have a really exciting group of players who can’t wait to get out there and perform. Many are still young but they also experienced and what better test than to play India in Ireland.”