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Gutsy Irish give England a fright before falling short

 

Off you go: Josh Little (left) celebrates bowling England captain Eoin Morgan (centre) as Kevin O’Brien (right) rushes to join the celebrations
Off you go: Josh Little (left) celebrates bowling England captain Eoin Morgan (centre) as Kevin O’Brien (right) rushes to join the celebrations

By Ian Callender

Ireland are still awaiting their first win on home soil against England, but the world No 1 side got the scare of their lives in Malahide. And it was the Ireland youngsters who led the way.

A 30-ball cameo from debutant Mark Adair, which included two huge sixes, and a four-wicket haul from 19-year old Josh Little, in his first one-day international, forced England to use virtually all their batting depth before they got over the line with four wickets and 18 balls to spare.

Only in the closing stages, when Adair and Little were bowling together, did the pressure of needing another wicket finally tell and England hurried to victory with an unbroken seventh wicket stand of 98 between Ben Foakes and Tom Curran, neither of whom are assured of a place in the World Cup favourites' final 15.

In the end, Ireland's below par total of 198 - bowled out with 11 balls unused - was just not enough but they didn't help themselves when Tim Murtagh, with the first ball of his final spell, hit Ben Foakes on the pads in front of leg stump.

Should they review or not?

The decision was that it was probably too high and possibly sliding down so they did not.

Shortly afterwards the big screen showed that the ball would have hit the stump full on and Foakes, on 37, got a reprieve.

It was the second poor decision of the day from umpire Kumar Dharmasena as he missed William Porterfield getting a glove to a short ball from Liam Plunkett; England went immediately for the review and the Ireland captain, knowing his fate, walked off immediately without waiting for the television umpire's verdict.

Curran also got a life, when Lorcan Tucker dropped him, running in from the cover boundary, but by then England needed only 12 to win so that would surely have been too late to matter.

It did deny Adair a debut wicket which would have sealed a memorable day.

The late call-up for Stuart Thompson strode to the wicket with Ireland on 111-5 (yes, the same score as in the famous World Cup win in Bangalore) and scored 32 of the next 46 runs.

In his fifth over in the middle, he was facing the express pace of England debutant Jofra Archer and, second ball, he expertly swayed out of the way of a 91mph short ball.

Even better was to follow as he hit Curran for two sixes in the space of four balls to move into the 30s but his next ball from Archer was full and quick and the off stump rocked back.

That left Ireland 157-6 in the 33rd over, with still almost 13 overs left, but they could find the boundary only twice as their old end-of-innings failings returned and they added just 41 runs in 10 overs before the wickets ran out.

The start had been delayed by two hours because of rain, with the game reduced to 45 overs, but after being put into bat, Porterfield and Paul Stirling put on their second consecutive 50-runs stand to see off the much publicised Archer's first four overs in England colours.

Both openers were back in the dressing room in the space of seven balls - Strling to a low catch at mid-on - and the third ODI debutant of the day was in the middle.

Tucker had scored from his each of his first four balls, the last a boundary tucked to fine leg, but Plunkett got his revenge next ball, a loose shot to cover.

Kevin O'Brien will also be disappointed with his dismissal, cutting his second ball straight to backward point and Gary Wilson was out before he could accelerate, edging Adil Rashid's googly to slip.

With a run-rate of only four and a half per over, Ireland knew they would have to take 10 wickets to knock England off their world No 1 perch but after three overs with the new ball from Adair, Little had to wait only four balls to make the breakthrough.

The teenager will accept that it needed a special catch, and George Dockrell duly delivered, a spectacular full length dive to his left to see the end of James Vince.

The experienced Murtagh followed up immediately in the next over, a ball which nipped back off the seam to dismiss England Test captain Joe Root for just seven runs.

That announced the arrival of Eoin Morgan, back on his home ground, this time as captain of England.

But he could not survive Little's second over, a brute of a short ball taking the Dubliner's glove and Wilson made no mistake behind the stumps.

It was the first time Morgan had failed to make double figures against Ireland.

If that catch was straightforward for Wilson, the second was certainly not, a stunning one-handed take to his left, again off Little, this time to end the innings of another England debutant, Dawid Malan.

Not a bad way to remember your 100th ODI!

When Joe Denly mistimed a pull shot off Boyd Rankin in the next over, England had slumped to 66-5 and Ireland were halfway to that elusive first home win over England.

Little took his fourth wicket, to give him the second best Ireland bowling on debut, but that was as good as it got.

So near but, yet again, so far.

IRELAND

W Porterfield c Foakes b Plunkett 17

P Stirling c Archer b Curran 33

A Balbirnie st Foakes b Denly 29

L Tucker c Morgan b Plunkett 7

K O'Brien c Denly b Curran 4

G Wilson c Root b Rashid 8

G Dockrell c Morgan b Plunkett 24

M Adair b Archer 32

T Murtagh c Foakes b Plunkett 12

J Little b Curran 9

B Rankin not out 5

Extras (4b 7lb 7w) 18

Total (43.1 overs) 198

Fall: 1-55 2-60 3-70 4-77 5-110 6-111 7-157 8-183 9-183

Bowling: D Willey 6-1-26-0, J Archer 8-0-40-1, T Curran 8.1-1-35-3, L Plunkett 7-0-35-4, A Rashid 9-0-27-1, J Denly 5-0-24-1

ENGLAND

J Vince c Dockrell b Little 18

D Malan c Wilson b Little 24

J Root lbw b Murtagh 7

E Morgan c Wilson b Little 0

J Denly c O'Brien b Rankin 8

B Foakes not out 61

D Willey c Adair b Little 20

T Curran not out 47

Extras (5lb 8w 1nb) 14

Total (6 wkts, 42 overs) 199

Did not bat: A Rashid, L Plunkett, J Archer

Fall: 1-34 2-41 3-46 4-62 5-66 6-101

Bowling: T Murtagh 9-1-29-1, M Adair 8-0-48-0, J Little 8-0-45-4, B Rankin 6-0-38-1, K O'Brien 2-0-7-0, G Dockrell 9-0-27-0

England beat Ireland by 4 wickets

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