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We let our level drop, says O'Brien after Irish hammered

 

In full cry: Kevin O’Brien hits out on his way to Ireland’s top score of 68
In full cry: Kevin O’Brien hits out on his way to Ireland’s top score of 68

By Ian Callender

The ups and downs of watching Ireland. Just 48 hours after reducing England, the world's No.1-ranked side, to 101-6, the bowlers conceded a world-record 365 for the first wicket as West Indies announced their arrival in Dublin with a record-breaking batting display.

John Campbell and Shai Hope both broke Ed Joyce's highest score of 160 in a one-day international in Ireland in a partnership which was just seven runs short of the record for any wicket in an ODI.

The previous best for the first wicket was 304 and no West Indies opening pair had scored more than 200, set in the 10-wicket win against India all of 22 years ago.

When the pair were still together at the start of the 48th over it looked as if they would become the first to bat through all 50 overs but Barry McCarthy's consolation for his most expensive figures were the wickets of both openers, the second his 50th in ODIs making him the seventh fastest to the landmark.

The West Indies total of 381-3 was the highest in an ODI in Ireland, beating Sri Lanka's 377-8 at Malahide three years ago and the third highest conceded by William Porterfield's side.

Kevin O'Brien, batting with a dislocated finger sustained in the warm-up, provided the only prolonged resistance in the Ireland reply, scoring his first half-century since the World Cup qualifier against UAE in Zimbabwe last year, but facing such a daunting total - 50 runs more than they had scored before - the innings was all about damage limitation.

When Ireland reached 152-3 in the 27th over, they were on course to do just that but O'Brien's wicket - another loose shot straight to mid-off - led to a horrible collapse, the last seven wickets going down for 33 runs.

Jason Holder's side had arrived under the radar because of the visit of England, but they drew 2-2 with them in the Caribbean in March and this squad for the Tri-Series is missing seven of their World Cup 15.

Campbell is one of the players who will not be going on to England for the finals but he had scored only 69 runs in his first six ODIs.

His 179 was a career-best and came off just 134 balls with 15 fours and six sixes.

Hope was pipped for the man of the match award, presumably for scoring 'only' 170, while hitting 22 fours and two sixes; definitely a case of a joint award as neither batsman gave a chance until their final shot.

McCarthy was the one change to the team that put up such a fine show against England, replacing the rested Boyd Rankin, but as captain Porterfield said after the match: "You can't expect a performance like that from young lads every game.

"They are on a learning curve."

Mark Adair, with the last ball of the innings, took his maiden ODI wicket on a day when the experienced Tim Murtagh also suffered his most expensive analysis, while Josh Little will have to live on his four-wicket haul against England for at least another match.

The Ireland innings got off to the worst possible start with Paul Stirling bowled first ball - his first golden duck in an ODI since the World Cup game against India in Bangalore, so you could say he was due one!

More worryingly, Porterfield has now gone 11 innings with a top score of 21 and Andrew Balbirnie was cut off in his prime by a short ball from Shannon Gabriel which thudded into his helmet. He had to leave the field and when he returned an hour later, he lasted only four more balls, pulling hard but straight to square leg.

The collapse was in full swing.

O'Brien, who admitted he was hampered in the field by his finger - there were two bad misfields - said afterwards: "The two guys played very well, we weren't at the level we were at on Friday and we bowled well at the start, but once they got in it was very difficult to pull them back.

"We were well placed at one stage but after the loss of those early wickets it was always going to be a tough task.

"The days when we were happy just to play out the overs are long gone so we tried to remain positive, but unfortunately we kept losing wickets."

Ireland's next match in the Tri-Series is against Bangladesh back at Malahide on Thursday, and there was encouragement from the Ireland Wolves who defeated the Tigers yesterday in their warm-up at The Hills.

James McCollum, having once again been left out of the Ireland XI, made the quick hop from Clontarf to The Hills to open the Wolves' batting and scored 102 from 109 balls with 15 fours and a six.

He was supported in a third-wicket stand of 124 - which dominated the innings - by Simi Singh, who fell nine runs short of a century.

With a quick-fire 27 from Tyrone Kane at the end, the Wolves finished on 307-8 and then bowled out Bangladesh for 219 in the 43rd over with Singh taking 4-51.

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