The hosts England couldn’t have started any worse as they were reduced to 44/3 before Captain Morgan bailed them out to a total of 328. However, in the second innings, the Irish top order reined supremacy with their stunning display on the night to leave England stone-cold by seven wickets.
Brief scores: Ireland 329/3 (Paul Stirling 142 and Rashid 1/61) beat England 328 (Morgan 106 and Young 3/53) by 7 wickets.
Were Ireland once again batting first?
Thankfully, Ireland were not batting first as Andrew Balbirnie won the toss and decided to field first in the third ODI which was as useless as the letters ‘ue’ in the word queue. Mark Adair and Tom Curran returned back to the playing XI for Ireland and England respectively after missing out in the first two games.
Tell me there was a Roy-Bairstow masterclass, please?
Well, after England were sent in to bat, I was too hopeful of the same thing, praying to the gods that the two English openers do put on a show. However, if there was one thing that I learnt from expectations and the English team, it is that never hope for anything from them, be it cricket or football. Roy and Bairstow returned back with the score reading 14-2.
Oh snap, did ‘all-rounder’ James Vince make use of it?
James Vince’s career and his series against Ireland has been pretty much the same, a lot of expectations without any kind of result. Once again he was presented with the chance of bailing England out of the trouble and he failed in terrible fashion, getting tangled like my ol’ earphones when 3.55 mm jacks were still a thing. He could only score 16 off 18 balls while being at the crease.
So I assume the rest of the English batting crashed?
Hope is a good thing but a hope like this, never really works its way to reality. Captain Morgan bailed them out of trouble with an innings that was always around the corner against his former side. Since 2019, he averages above 50 and surely is ageing like a fine wine while several voiced their criticism. Morgan’s 14th ODI century was truly a masterclass and was reminiscent of his innings against Afghanistan in the World Cup but only better. His range of shots was just exquisite and his timing, let’s not debate it!
Was Sam Billings at the other end during Morgan’s carnage?
Well, no. It was the other one who was well-hyped by the English selectors, Tom Banton who put on a show. He has been showing signs of good innings for some time now but he opted for the opportune time to showcase what he can offer to English cricket. However, it is also interesting to note that he started brightly before succumbing under pressure during the last phase of the innings, for a 51-ball 58 as Gareth Delany caught him right in front.
Enough of England, let’s talk about Ireland, please?
Oh yes, sorry about that but hasn’t it been the trend of the series? Seldom have we really seen a positive from Ireland’s fragile and young team! But today was different, I have to say as they put up a really good fight against the English top-order which was looking to bully them. In specific, Craig Young was exceptional, with a three-fer that had Roy, Vince and Billings walking back to the hut.
Did they do a Fernando Torres towards the end?
Well from 203/6, they did not do a Torres and missed out on an easy chance, rather they took it on themselves and pulled off a Martial. A wise innings from David Willey (51 off 42) and Tom Curran (33 from 54) ensured that the hosts reached 328 following the end of their innings. Ireland did not do really bad, it's just that they forgot the English depth as Craig Young impressed one and all with his show.
How about the Irish innings?
Ireland’s top-order could not have asked for a better day to fire on all engines. Not only did they fire it up, Paul Stirling’s form saw a welcome return. While Gareth Delaney struggled to cope up with the asking rate, his partner at the other end, Stirling was more than loving his role at the top throwing open a new challenge to the English bowlers, who have in the past looked more than threatening. Willey, as usual, was amongst the wickets for the hosts.
Surely, the 329 luck must have hit them hard?
Oh, you do remember that, yes there is some sort of strange relationship between 329 and Ireland. While it was Kevin O’ Brien with a century there against England in Bengaluru, it was Stirling here in Southampton, scoring an incredible ton against the hosts’ attack which looked a bit lacklustre, including the spinners - Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.
Talking about Ali, how many more games before they drop him?
You got me wrong, I’m just reporting the game, not predicting the future for this English team. And if it was up to me, Ali would not have featured in the third ODI after the first two games. He looked clueless with the bat, like say a second-grader looking at cursive writing. After Eoin Morgan walked off with an injury, he also became the captain, making some clueless decisions. The last year has been pretty much this way for the Birmingham spinner, hopefully, he comes back to his true form soon.
Skippers leading from the front kind of night, right?
Absolutely, both skippers set a good example, I would even go on to say a prime example of how to lead the team. While Morgan got England out of trouble and Ireland into trouble, his counterpart Andrew Bilbirnie did the exact same from the other end. Balbirnie put on a true masterclass of performance (read a century), with a shade of both sensible cricket and at times, extravagant. What was more impressive, to be honest, was the way the Irish partnership bloomed getting the needed runs in the busiest of manners. So much so their partnership could be compared to the Asian city of Tokyo.
So you built it so much now, what happened in the end?
Well, it was in short a thrilling contest, imagine writing this at 2 AM and still calling it ‘interesting.’ It is understandable that England were fielding a second-string side but this team are the World Champions, even their second-best is enough to leave Ireland toppled, as seen in the first two encounters. There were so many characters, so many turns that even Christopher Nolan would have been left Dunkirked.
Is Ireland the new world-beater?
If you are sticking purely to the word, yes they are world-beaters because they just defeated the World Champions in stunning fashion. But if you are asking genuinely, no not a chance against the top opposition. After the bashing in the first two games, this one surely sprung a new life into this series and to the new ODI qualifiers that can finally breathe.