Ireland recorded a shock win against England in the third and final ODI at the Ageas Bowl on Tuesday.
Chasing a record score for Ireland they reached their target with just one ball to spare. Centuries from Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie paved the way for an historic Irish victory.
England looking for series whitewash
England went into the match with an unassailable 2-0 lead. The hosts made one enforced change with Tom Curran coming in for the injured Reece Topley. Ireland welcomed back the experienced Mark Adair from an ankle operation.
The Irish won the toss and elected to field. England suffered a huge loss in the opening over when Jason Roy perished to his fourth ball off Craig Young. Adair bowled Jonny Bairstow for four and when James Vince was out for nine, England slipped to 44 for 3.
Morgan and Banton rally England
England thought back thanks to a fourth wicket partnership of 156 featuring Eoin Morgan and Somerset’s Tom Banton. Morgan hit 106 off 84 balls including 15 fours and four sixes. He received substantial help from Banton who went on to make 58. The youngster was one of two dismissal’s in seven balls as the Irish pegged England back.
At 216 for 7 Ireland’s tight bowling had put the brakes on England. But England are not World champions for nothing and an eighth wicket partnership of 73 rallied the hosts. Once again proving their strength in depth down the lower order is crucial to the success of this team.
David Willey made 51 with an undefeated 38 from Curran boosted England’s total to 328 in their 50 overs.
Ireland’s downfall in this series has been the lack of runs made by the top order. Paul Stirling and Gareth Delaney put on 50 for the opening partnership before Delaney was bowled by Willey.
Stirling and Balbirnie heap the pressure on England
Like Stirling, Balbirnie went into the final match of the series with a lack of runs behind him. But the pair rectified this by putting on a magnificent partnership of 214 when Stirling was run out for 142. His knock came off 128 deliveries with nine fours and six sixes.
With the run rate climbing up to nine an over required, Balbirnie holed out to long off for 113. At 279 for 3 the Irish still required 50 off 32 balls.
Unlikely duo see Ireland home to victory
It was down to the experience head of O’Brien and the inexperienced Harry Tector to see Ireland home. With 31 needed from 24 balls Tector was dropped on 19. With the pair at the crease and eight needed from six balls they held their nerve to get the visitors over the line. O’Brien made 21 off 15 balls with Tector an invaluable 29 off 26 deliveries.
The victory from Ireland was reminiscent of their win against England in the 2011 world cup in Bangalore. Ironically it was O’Brien at the crease to guide Ireland to victory then as it was now.
That win was special for Ireland, but so will this victory rank high in their achievements in the cricketing world.
Irish eyes will definitely be smiling tonight in Southampton. The boys in green have certainly done the country proud tonight.