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Rankin ready for opening night

Boyd Rankin believes that his side has prepared well for the event with a month-long tour of the Caribbean and is hopeful that this preparation will help his side do well.

When Ireland steps out to play the West Indies in Guyana on Friday night in its opening match at the ICC World Twenty20, Boyd Rankin will not be alone in savoring the experience. And after the Netherlands stunned England on the opening night of last year's tournament, Ireland will be hoping to follow in its footsteps and achieve another scalp.

"It will be brilliant to play on Friday night in front of the home crowd and there should be a big crowd and a good atmosphere and everybody is looking forward to getting stuck in against the West Indies. I know they are a strong side and they have a couple of guys coming back from the IPL but I think it is good to showcase Irish cricket at the top level. We want to go out there and show the world that we really do deserve to be there," said Rankin.

Rankin believes that his side has prepared well for the event with a month-long tour of the Caribbean and is hopeful that this preparation will help his side do well.

"The mood is quite good. The guys have been out here since the 1 April getting used to the conditions and we have been working really hard over the past couple of weeks to get our skills up to the level required," he said. "All the guys have really been looking forward to this event and we are looking forward to getting started."

He believes that the team has taken important steps forward since its last visit to the Caribbean to play in an ICC event and that this reflects the increasing professionalism of Associate cricket.

"Even three years ago we didn't have the same preparation as what we have now. It really helps having guys on contracts as it means they can train all year round and concentrate on their cricket. There is more money there for us so we can spend more time getting used to the conditions, which really helps us as it isn't easy getting used to the conditions back in Ireland. It is good to get outdoors and train properly, as going overseas is the best way for us to improve and get better. If we play the bigger teams more often we will get even better and in three or four years hopefully we can be a really top team when playing against the other sides," he said.

"The support we get is massive and without it I think it would be difficult for me and the younger guys to be able to step up to international cricket. There is a gap between playing in Ireland and international cricket so it is great to have the camps to help you become better cricketers. It would have been nice when I was 17 or 18 to have had as much support."

Although there is still plenty of experience in the Irish side, there is a young generation of players coming through, with the squad for this event including two players, Paul Stirling and George Dockrell, that played in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2010 earlier in the year.

"It is really exciting that quite a few young guys are coming through. I hadn't seen much of George Dockrell or Paul Stirling before this tour, but I have been really impressed with the way they go about their business," said Rankin.

"Paul seems to fit in really well and I think he will do really well in this tournament. He has been scoring a lot of runs and the young guys that have been coming through have stepped up really well. It is nice to have a bit of experience in the sime as well like TJ (Trent Johnston) and Andre Botha to give us tips on playing against the top teams. All the young guys have no fear so they give it what they can and hopefully we might be able to achieve a good upset."

Although Ireland's focus is very much on its first match, Rankin admits that the team is looking forward to taking on England in its other group stage match.

"It should be a huge task to play against England. I know quite a few of the guys from having played county cricket and it will be strange playing against some of them, as I know them so well, particularly as one of my good mates, Eoin Morgan, has begun playing for England. It will make the victory all the more sweeter if we do beat them as they are our next door neighbours. We know all the guys games pretty well and it is the same for them, so it is not like we don't know each other, and we have played each other a few times over the last few years," said Rankin.

"We are really close to beating them and they do give us respect because we have been doing well. We need to do the basics well and if we get a chance to beat we hopefully can take it. If we play at our best I think we have a chance of beating England or the West Indies.

"We need to put up a good show as the last thing we want to do is not play very well and make the bigger sides think that there is not that much point playing Ireland. We have shown we can play good cricket and it is really important to play well. Although there is a no fear factor, there is a bit of pressure to do well and keep Ireland up on the upward spiral."