Finally, ODI cricket returned after a long gap of approximately five months. The resumption of the cricket season proved favourable for world champions England. They defeated Ireland by six wickets in a one-sided affair at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Thursday.
The Irish brigade was bundled out for a mere 172 after 44.4 overs, courtesy of a fiery bowling spell from paceman David Willey. Willey ripped apart the Irish top order, as he finished his game with 5/30. Saqib Mahmood took two wickets, while spinner Adil Rashid and medium-fast bowler Tom Curran claimed one wicket each.
Only five players from Ireland could score in double digits. There was a point in the game when it seemed like the visitors won’t be able to cross even 100. They were down 28/5 when experienced campaigner Kevin O’Brien and Curtis Campher took the responsibility of rebuilding the innings. O’Brien fell for 22 runs after adding 51 runs with Campher for the sixth wicket. Then in a quick interval, Ireland went from 79/5 to 79/7.
It was an impressive batting display from Campher, who ended up remaining unbeaten on 59 off 119 balls, together with Andy McBrine’s 48-ball 40 that ensured that Ireland crossed the 150-run mark. The pair added 66 runs for the eighth wicket before Mcbrine succumbed to Curran.
There wasn’t much left to be done by the tailenders, with 27 runs added to the scoreboard for the last two wickets combined. At the end of the first innings, the scorecard didn’t have enough runs for the visitors to defend.
England also kept losing early wickets. The Irish bowlers created some pressure on the hosts but their lack of quality and intent ensured that England emerged victorious in the end.
For a time, the hosts were struggling at 78/4. Had the opponents been any high-quality team like Australia, the Brits could have faced an embarrassing defeat. However, England didn’t play its best lineup, as it has been saving firepower for the upcoming competition against Pakistan at home.
Captain Eoin Morgan (36 not out) and Sam Billings (67 not out) were the picks of the English batsmen.
According to BBC, following the match, Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie said, “We didn’t assess conditions well enough. You can’t afford a start like that against a team like England. Maybe there was a touch of rust but we need to be able to assess conditions and adapt quicker. They bowled pretty well upfront but we played pretty loosely.”
Ireland will be hoping for better results in the upcoming games as their performance will determine their qualification status for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, due in India.
The two teams will play the second match of the series on Saturday at the same ground.