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Cricket news - Stirling-Balbirnie duet powers Ireland to memorable win
Stirling and Balbirnie shared a brilliant 214-run stand
In a match full of sharp twists and turns, Paul Stirling (142) and Andrew Balbirnie (113) composed game-changing hundreds to script a memorable seven-wicket victory for Ireland over the current 50-over World Champions, England. The visitors chased down the target of 329 in the final over to grab 10 crucial points in the Cricket World Cup Super League.
When Balbirnie was dismissed in the 45th over off Adil Rashid, the match was in the balance. However, the duo of Kevin O'Brien and Harry Tector played with a calm head on their shoulders to take the side home.
One of the crucial turning points in the game came in the 46th over when David Willey tried to nail the yorker, but it turned out to be a full toss, with O'Brien depositing it over the midwicket fence. To make matters worse for the hosts, it turned out to be a no-ball, as it was delivered above waist height.
O'Brien also sliced one over the in-field on the off-side in the 48th over, as the equation came down to 17 off two overs. Tector, the junior partner, followed in O'Brien's footsteps by carving Tom Curran through the point region. O'Brien, who helped Ireland chart a famous victory in the 2011 World Cup game against England, then hit the winning runs off Saqib Mahmood.
The foundation for Ireland's win was laid down by the duo of Stirling and Balbirnie, with the pair sharing an alliance of 214 for the second wicket. Stirling, who opened the innings with Gareth Delany, showed his aggressive intent when he slammed a couple of sixes off Saqib in the eighth over.
Despite losing his partner, Delany, he continued to play with freedom and got the required support from Balbirnie. The highlight of his innings was the way he kept tonking Rashid over the leg-side boundary for sixes. He even got down on his knee and smashed Willey for a six over midwicket.
Eventually, Stirling was run out on the back of a direct-hit by Curran. Balbirnie, who accumulated his fifth ODI hundred, soon followed him back to the pavilion. At that stage, England seemed to have made a comeback, but O'Brien and Tector had other ideas. Meanwhile, the hosts would rue the fact that they dropped three catches, including two of Stirling.
Earlier, Eoin Morgan's blazing hundred had powered England to a substantial total. The visitors, who elected to bowl, started on the right note when Craig Young dismissed Jason Roy in the first over of the match. Mark Adair then castled Jonny Bairstow. However, England stuck to their tried and tested mantra of playing with a positive intent.
Morgan led from the front by cracking a flurry of shots including pulls, drives and lofts. Banton, who strode out to the middle at the fall of Vince's wicket, gave Morgan the support, as the pair shared a timely 146-run stand. Banton and Morgan also crossed their respective milestones - fifty and hundred. Morgan, however, fell to Joshua Little, with Tector taking the catch at backward point.
Morgan's wicket also opened the gates for Ireland to make further dents, with Banton and Moeen falling in quick succession. Sam Billings, who has been in good form in the series, also fell cheaply. With the score reading 216 for 7, Willey and Curran then propped up the home side with a wide range of shots. For the visitors, Young, Little and the impressive Campher shared seven spoils between them.
Brief scores: England 328 in 49.5 overs (Eoin Morgan 106, Tom Banton 58; Craig Young 3-53) lost to Ireland 329/3 in 49.5 overs (Paul Stirling 142, Andrew Balbirnie 113) by seven wickets.
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