Ireland stunned England by beating them by seven wickets in a thrilling match at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. England scored a massive tally of 328 runs in 49.5 overs before getting all out. On any other day, this total would have been enough to secure a victory in ODIs.
But on Tuesday, Ireland was too stubborn to give up. Eventually, they scored 329 runs by losing just three wickets with one ball to spare. Nobody could have imagined what they are about to witness. A team that barely succeeded to put up a reasonable fight throughout the series ended up chasing the mammoth score.
England didn't play their best line-up, as they are about to feature in the first Test match against Pakistan starting Wednesday at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester. Despite that, the hosts scored at a rate of over 6.50 runs per over.
Captain Eoin Morgan registered a quickfire century, before being dismissed at 106 off 84 balls. His innings consisted of four over-boundaries and 15 boundaries.
Tom Banton contributed another 58 runs to compensate for the early loss of wickets. England's top order failed again, as they were struggling at 44/3 after eight overs. But then, Morgan and Banton took charge of the innings with a 146 run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Then again, the hosts kept losing wickets. At one point they went from 190/3 to 216/7, losing four wickets for just 26 runs. When it seemed like England might not be able to cross even 250, David Willey and Tom Curran stood firm, scoring 51 and 38 not out, respectively.
In the second innings, Ireland started patiently, as they registered a 50-run opening partnership before giving up their first wicket. English bowlers had to concede 214 more runs before they could pick the visitors' second wicket. That data alone sums up what happened at the Ageas Bowl.
Opener Paul Stirling's massive 142-run innings and captain Andrew Balbirnie's 113-run innings completely dominated the English bowling line-up. It seemed as if the world champions were clueless on how to stop the Irish firepower.
However, England did fight until the second to the last ball of the 50th over, courtesy of some tight bowling in the death overs. But experienced campaigner, Kevin O'Brien's 15-ball 21-run innings, consisting of one four and a six, ensured that the visitors avoid a series whitewash. BBC reports that Tuesday's game marked the highest successful chase in ODIs by any visiting team in England.
Coincidentally, these two teams had collided in a Group B game at the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup in Bengaluru, India, where the English batsmen had registered a total of 327/8 runs in 50 overs. In that match as well, Ireland scored 329/7 to stun the Brits. Interestingly, O'Brien had scored a century in that game, while Sterling was also a part of it. It seems that history just repeated itself on Tuesday.