England vs Ireland: An amateur series with a miraculous end!!

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England vs Ireland
Courtesy: Indian Express

Rarely do you see a bilateral series being remembered for a single match. Ireland’s tour of England will arguably be regarded as one of the glorious moments in Irish cricket history. Reminiscent of their run-chase against England in the 2011 World Cup, Ireland pulled off another stunning victory in the Third ODI at Southampton.

Stirling and Balbirnie tee off to tee up another famous Ireland ...
Courtesy: The Irish Times

At the forefront of this win were the veterans Paul Stirling and the captain, Andrew Balbirnie. Chasing 329, either batsmen hit balls to all parts of the ground completing their respective centuries. Due process, they also set an Irish record for their second highest partnership in ODIs ever (220). While Balbirnie kept his cool and played the anchor’s role, Stirling’s attack was well aided by a couple of missed chances. The finishing touch to the runchase was provided by the experienced Kevin O’Brien and the young Harry Tector.

The English batting on the other hand has been sloppy throughout the series. Despite two easy victories up front, the English top-order has failed to deliver goods consistently. If not for the stable and dependable middle-order, the series might have well been in balance. The third ODI, much like the other two saw the top-order struggle. Captain Eoin Morgan with the company of the half-centurions,Tom Banton and David Willey, brought up his century of just 84 balls. However, England kept losing wickets at consistent intervals and were thus restricted to only 328 on a batting paradise. Pretty much at par, as one would say, still had to be chased and the Irish miracle was too good to be on the losing side.

Previously, in the ODI series:

Curtis Campher a 'huge positive' for Ireland
Courtesy: ESPNCricInfo

In either of the previous matches, Ireland batted first and were bundled up early. Struggling at 28/5 in the first match, debutante Curtis Campher saved the Irish team taking them to a respectable 172. Though the score was chased down by England with more than 22 overs to spare, their top-order was left exposed by the Irish bowlers. While Bairstow and Banton only had a single blast of runs, Roy and Vince didn’t quite get going throughout the series.

David Willey returned to international cricket with a bang
Courtesy: CricTracker

The second match too was pretty much a carbon copy of the first. Curtis Campher, the young all-rounder was again back amongst runs scoring his second half century in as many innings. He showed great character, control and patience. He understood the situation better than anyone else and played sensibly taking his team home again, this time 40 runs better than the previous total. At 212 and with getting the wicket of Roy in the first over, Ireland believed of a miracle that was not meant to be. Bairstow’s 82 took the game away from the visitors that was completed well by Willey’s efficient 46. David Willey who took 8 wickets and scored 97 runs in the series was also adjudged the Man of the Series.

Positives to take for Ireland:

Ireland’s Harry Tector celebrates winning the match.
Courtesy: The Guardian

The young Irish team are sure to take away a bag of positives from the series, albeit a 2-1 loss. The performance of the debutante Curtis Campher will remain one of the highlights of the year. As rightly put by his captain, Andrew Balbirnie, “It was as good as a debut iin Irish t-shirt that I’ve ever seen.” The emergence of match-winners in Paul Stirling, Balbirinie and Tector would also give the minnows a lot of hope. Ireland have previously shown great potential and have been known for upsets throughout the ICC tournaments. They beat Pakistan in the 2007 ODI World Cup before getting better of the in-form England team in 2011. Now, with a Test status the team is eager to get into the groove of international cricket a lot more. One wouldn’t be surprised if Ireland springs in some more upsets in times to come.

ICC World Cup Super League:

This series also marked the start of the ICC World Cup Super League announced by the International Cricket Council last week. Played with 13 teams over the period of two years, the League consists of each team playing 4 home and 4 away 3-match ODI series. The points obtained in these matches would help the top 7 directly qualify for the 2023 ODI World Cup. England having pocketed the series, currently sit at the top with 20 points. Ireland too opened their account at 10 after the impressive win today.

International cricket is back and running in the UK. It is only about time it gets back to other countries as well. Having said, with Pakistan Tour of England, Carribean Premier League, T20 Blast, IPL and Big Bash all set to resume their cricketing journeys, the cricket fraternity is assured of some enthralling action.

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