Image courtesy of: The Telegraph
Morgan and Bopara saved England from suffering an embarrassing defeat
The Irish duo of Boyd Rankin and Eoin Morgan helped England breeze past their former team-mates by six wickets in a one-off ODI in Dublin.
Rankin left the Irish batting line-up in absolute tatters as he snapped up four wickets, while Morgan scored a match-saving century.
Morgan was well supported by all-rounder Ravi Bopara, who smashed his maiden ODI century.
Morgan, who was filling in for Alastair Cook as captain, won the toss and elected to bowl first, which is becoming a very common tactic for England nowadays.
However, his decision paid off as Rankin dismissed opening batsman Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce in quick succession to leave Ireland struggling at 36/2.
A 59-run partnership between Niall O’Brien and William Porterfield steadied Ireland’s innings until O’Brien was clean bowled by James Tredwell for 26.
While Ireland continued to lose wickets at regular intervals, Porterfield brought up his half-century and was intent on causing as much damage as he possibly could.
It was during a 63-run partnership with John Mooney that Porterfield registered a sparkling century before Rankin came back into the attack and cleaned him up with a corker of a delivery.
Porterfield scored 112 runs off 142 deliveries, which included 14 boundaries and a six.
Some late entertainment from the lower order batsmen helped Ireland post a respectable score of 269 at the end of their 50 overs.
Rankin was unstoppable with the ball as he claimed four wickets, while Tredwell picked up two and Bopara chipped in with one.
Chasing 270 to win, England got off to an awful start as Tim Murtagh dismissed Luke Wright, James Taylor and debutant Gary Ballance in quick succession.
Trent Johnston added to England’s early woes as he picked up the wicket of Michael Carberry, who only managed to score 10 runs.
However, from then on it was all England as Morgan and Bopara set about repairing the early damage that had been caused.
Both players soon passed their half-centuries and Porterfield, who is Ireland’s skipper, was starting to become extremely worried.
His worries skyrocketed as Bopara and Morgan both recorded centuries and were guiding England to an easy win.
In the end, none of the Irish bowlers could dismiss the pair and England won the match by six wickets with seven overs to spare.
Bopara and Morgan’s partnership had been worth 226 runs and came at an astounding run rate of 8.02.
Bopara finished unbeaten on 101 off 75 balls, which included 10 boundaries and five sixes, while Morgan remained undefeated on 124 off 106 deliveries, which included eight boundaries and four maximums.
Porterfield was disappointed to have lost the match, especially after his bowlers had dented England’s chase early on, but nonetheless praised Morgan and Bopara for their stellar innings.
“Thanks, it was nice to get a hundred, shame to come out on the losing side,” he said. “I obviously felt all right, playing England in the Irish jersey is always special, nice to get a score in a game like this. We fancied our chances, bowling with sustained pressure. We felt the way Tredders bowled, the spinners would come into the game but once the ball got softer it was hard for them – credit to Morgs and Ravi. It doesn’t matter who gets the wickets for them. The crowd were fantastic, especially when we were looking for a wicket to break the partnership.”
Morgan was named the Man of the Match for his brilliant 124 and the England captain said: “Yeah, I was probably more nervous sitting in the changing rooms than out in the middle. Was nice to get out there, it was tough, quite challenging, and a lot of what we’re not used to as a side. It’s been magnificent to get some runs under my belt and contribute to an England win. Time in the middle is crucial ahead of a big series [against Australia]. It’s been an incredible day for Irish cricket, so congratulations to Cricket Ireland. Boyd had to bowl fuller, which is quite challenging, but he handled it well. The pitch was quite tricky to start with but the nerves would be expected from the new guys coming in. You only had to look at the crowd today, the support has been brilliant.”