Ireland failed to complete a glorious double over New Zealand at Malahide as, for the second successive match for Andy Balbirnie’s team, it was a case of so near, yet so far against a number one ranked outfit.
Two weeks ago, it was a four runs T20 defeat by India; yesterday Michael Bracewell hit the first five balls of the final over for 24 to see the Black Caps to a one wicket World Cup Super League victory.
Balbirnie admitted it was a “quiet dressing room” immediately after the match as they took in the magnitude of what they almost did. Unlike the Ireland rugby team, they had no right to beat New Zealand with 10 places separating them in the rankings but to score 300 and then have their visitors 281 for nine after 49 overs was dreamland.
Unfortunately, the final over turned into a nightmare for Craig Young as Bracewell, the nephew of former Ireland coach John, hit his first two balls for four and, with 111 runs beside his name, then finished the job with another four and two more sixes.
But there were plenty of heroes for Ireland, none more so than Harry Tector, already proclaimed to be the next ‘superstar’ of Irish cricket by his captain. Yesterday, his golden form with the bat continued and never can a maiden international century have been more deserved.
He was finally dismissed, caught off the top edge at backward point off Blair Tickner whom he had just hit for five successive fours and a six. His 113 came off 117 balls with 14 fours and three sixes but it was about much more than the stats.
To get Ireland to 300, Tector needed support and he got in spades from Curtis Campher, surprisingly preferred to Gareth Delany but he totally vindicated his selection with 43 off 47 balls and then took three wickets in an accurate bowling spell.
Stephen Doheny and Graham Hume were kept waiting for debuts as Balbirnie opened with Paul Stirling — out for nine and five, respectively, to leave Ireland 26 for two — as Andy McBrine kept the No 3 role he was given in the victorious West Indies series.
Lorcan Tucker, George Dockrell and Simi Singh then maintained the momentum as Ireland scored 93 off the last 10 overs. Unfortunately, New Zealand hit 105.
Scores: Ireland 300-9 (50 overs, H Tector 113, C Campher 43, A McBrine 39, S Singh 30, L Tucker 26, G Dockrell 18, L Ferguson 2-44, I Sodhi 2-62, B Tickner 2-71) New Zealand 305-9 (49.5 overs, M Bracewell 127 not out, M Guptill 51, G Phillips 38, I Sodhi 25, T Latham 23; C Campher 3-49, M Adair 2-43, A McBrine 1-33, J Little 1-46, C Young 1-78). New Zealand won by 1 wicket.