Ireland were looking to make history in Malahide having only beaten two full-members at home in ODI cricket before today’s game, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, while England were looking to take some form into their home World Cup later this month.
After a delayed start due to the overnight rainfall on the outfield, the game was reduced to a 45 overs a side game. England won the toss and captain Eoin Morgan had no hesitation in inserting Ireland into bat in search of early wickets.
Ireland started off their innings with a fine fifty-five run opening partnership between captain Porterfield and Paul Stirling. It was the 14th time the pair had passed fifty together for Ireland, mainly in thanks to regular boundaries from Stirling and a maximum from the skipper Porterfield.
The partnership was broken after Stirling could only pick out Jofra Archer at mid-on and he departed for an entertaining thirty-three. Porterfield then fell in the following over after he gloved one down the leg-side undoing all the good work of the previous 12 overs.
Ireland lost wickets at regular intervals throughout and struggled to build any substantial partnerships. Andy Balbirnie played nicely for his twenty-nine before he was controversially stumped by Foakes, which sparked great debate regarding the rules of the game. Foakes kept the ball in his hand before waiting till Balbirnie lifted his leg and then took the bails off, leaving Balbirnie stranded. Many thought he had waited too long before dislodging the bails but Balbirnie had to depart.
Ireland’s middle order woes continued after collapsing from 55/1 to 111/6. Wilson, O’Brien and debutant Tucker all failed to reach double figures in the middle overs thanks to a combination of poor shot-making and good bowling from England.
Dockrell and Adair put on forty-six for the seventh wicket, with the latter depositing a couple of balls into the stands in his entertaining cameo of thirty-two. Adair’s effortless clean hitting would have no doubt pleased coach Ford who has very vocally called for more of his players to become ‘match winners’ and Adair can definitely fit in to that category.
Dockrell played patiently for his twenty-four before he fell to Plunkett who was the pick of the England bowlers with figures of 4/35. Ireland were all out for a below par 198 in the penultimate over, leaving England firmly in the driving seat at the interval.
England, without regular openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, opened with James Vince and Dawid Malan who both started watchfully. Then Josh Little, aged just 19, on debut, struck with his fourth ball to dismiss Vince who pulled a short delivery to Dockrell at square leg who sprung brilliantly to his left to take a screamer of a catch.
England’s talisman Joe Root then fell lbw to Murtagh in the following over which brought Dubliner Eoin Morgan to the crease. Morgan’s arrival to the middle was met by a chorus of boos and some cheers by the Malahide faithful but Morgan’s stay at the crease was short-lived as Little picked up his second with a peach of a shortball.
England was still in the ascendancy at 62/3 but that soon turned to 66/5 when first Little picked up his third wicket by dismissing opener Malan for thirty-four and then Rankin got Denly caught at mid-wicket for eight. The Malahide crowd sensed another famous win over the old enemy.
The world’s number one ranked ODI side began to consolidate. Willey joined wicketkeeper Foakes at the crease and they put on forty-five for the sixth wicket off ninety-five deliveries, boundaries were at a premium as Ireland worked well to put the squeeze on England.
Little was brought back on for his second spell by captain Porterfield and he immediately repaid his captain’s trust by removing Willey to claim his fourth wicket in his fifth over. England still needed ninety-eight runs with just four wickets left. Porterfield then kept Little on for his sixth over and it nearly paid dividends once again as Little forced the edge from Curran but the ball was adjudged to have landed short of keeper Gary Wilson by the third umpire.
The following delivery, in the twenty-ninth over, was on the money again from Little as he bowled another bouncer that rose on Curran who fended it straight into the air agonisingly short of Wilson again. Little then exchanged words with Curran and knowing his three overs would be crucial in deciding the outcome of the game, Porterfield decided to keep his overs in reserve.
Foakes was still anchoring the innings on debut and was more than happy just to nudge the ball around. He waited till his fifty-fifth ball to hit a boundary despatching Rankin for six over square leg and two balls later, he beautifully drove Rankin for four to bring some calmness to proceedings on what was a frantic day in Malahide.
Then the turning point came, with England still needing sixty-two for victory, Murtagh trapped Foakes in front on the pad but umpire Dharmasena shook his head. Ireland had a review at their disposal but failed to use it and the hawkeye showed Ireland made a mistake, as it adjudged the ball going on to hit the stumps. Foakes was on thirty-seven, he went on to finish sixty-one not out, showing how fine the margins are in international cricket.
Little was brought back on for his third spell, with England still needing forty-four runs from forty-two deliveries. His third ball of the over was sent to the fence by Foakes who edged towards a debut half-century. Curran then flat-batted Little down the ground for four and England needed just thirty-two from the six overs left.
Foakes brought up his fifty off seventy balls in the fortieth over before seeing England over the line with eighteen balls to spare. The Surrey duo put ninety-eight on for the unbroken seventh wicket stand showing to everyone the embarrassment of riches England have in the batting department. Curran finished on forty-seven not out, doing his selection chances no harm ahead of the World Cup.
Coach Graham Ford will take plenty of positives from today going into the tri-series, with one being debutant Josh Little’s 4/45 and the powerful hitting of 23-year-old Mark Adair. Ireland will face the West Indies in Clontarf on Sunday before facing Bangladesh on Thursday back here in Malahide.