Doug Watson claims Scotland’s World Cup qualifying opener against old foes Ireland could be crucial in their quest to reach the global showpiece in India.

The Scots were yesterday drawn in a tough group that also includes Sri Lanka, Oman and UAE with all games taking place in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and interim coach Watson is already eyeing a winning start against the Irish on 21 June. By then his team will have tackled West Indies and Zimbabwe in their official warm-up games.

“Our opening game against Ireland will be pivotal for us, and it will be great if we can kick off with a win, but there won’t be any easy games in this group,” Watson said.

“All the games in the group are going to be tough and every team is playing for something really important at the end, so we need to be at our very best for every game in order to get through.”

Ten teams will be competing for just two places at the World Cup in India this year with the top three from each group progressing to the Super Six stage. Those teams will each play three Super Six matches against the sides they did not meet in the initial group stage. All points won in the group stage will be carried over to the Super Six, apart from those gained against the bottom two in each group.

The ICC have confirmed that for the first time at this event, DRS will be used for all matches from the Super Six onwards.

Watson added: “I’m excited to see the draw. The two initial warm-up games against West Indies and Zimbabwe will prepare us nicely for our opening game against Ireland, our nearest rivals, so we’re pretty pleased about the lead in to the tournament.

“The fact these are both tough games against full member nations will set the guys up well both mentally and physically for the nature of the competition.

“I’m very pleased that DRS will be used in the Super Six stage. I would have loved for it to be used across the entire tournament, given the nature of what is at stake for every nation – you want the best technology available to you – but at least it will be there for the crucial stages of the Super Six.”

Ahead of travelling to Zimbabwe, the Scotland squad will fly to Pretoria, South Africa, for a pre-tournament training camp, when they will also play two unofficial warm-up matches games against Nepal and Netherlands.

Scotland’s fixtures in ICC Men’s World Cup qualifiers (Bulawayo)

(all matches start at 0900 local time)

Wednesday, 21 June: Ireland, Queen’s Sports Club

Friday, 23 June: UAE, Bulawayo Athletic Club

Sunday, 25 June: Oman, Bulawayo Athletic Club

Tuesday, 27 June: Sri Lanka , Queen’s Sports Club