Josh Little enjoyed a dream ODI debut at Malahide yesterday, taking four wickets in his first five overs as Ireland gave England an almighty scare before succumbing to the World Cup favourites by four wickets.
Defending a modest total of 198 all out, in a game reduced to 45 overs a side, Pembroke left-armer Little tore through the England top order with three wickets, including a snorter of a bouncer to have Eoin Morgan caught behind for a three-ball duck.
Tim Murtagh nipped one past Joe Root's defences for an lbw on 7 and when Kevin O'Brien held the third of three superb catches by the home fielders, England were 66-5 and the Boys in Green were sniffing a major upset.
Ben Foakes, a villain earlier in the piece, staged a revival first with David Willey, who became Little's fourth victim, caught at long leg, and then in a match-deciding partnership of 98 with Surrey team-mate Tom Curran.
Foakes, the game's only half-centurion, would have been lbw to Murtagh on 37, had Ireland reviewed, and Curran was dropped on the cover boundary, before the seventh-wicket pair saw England over the line with four overs to spare. Little finished with 4-45.
"We have to look at that as an opportunity missed," said captain William Porterfield. "We left 25-30 runs out there with the bat and then let it get away a bit at the back end of their innings."
After the start was delayed by a wet outfield, Ireland began well with openers Paul Stirling and Porterfield adding 55 before a mid-order wobble as Lorcan Tucker, O'Brien and Gary Wilson went cheaply.
Nevertheless, a modest total would undoubtedly have been higher but for a cheap trick to dismiss Andy Balbirnie for 29, just as the in-form No 3 was beginning to hit his stride.
Balbirnie attempted to sweep a wide, missed, and watched as wicketkeeper Foakes held the ball to the leg stump. With the batsman's foot firmly planted behind the line there was no chance of a stumping and that phase of play should have been over.
Instead Foakes waited until Balbirnie had turned away and raised his toe, then whipped off the bails. The laws of the game said 'Out' but a fight would have ensued had a club keeper tried the same thing on a weekend afternoon.
Balbirnie's dismissal brought in Mark Adair and Ireland may have found another good one in the strapping 23-year-old all-rounder, who made the most of his late call-up by smashing a couple of sixes in a breezy 32 from 30 balls, then went past the bat several times in a lively opening spell.
Little and Adair's debut performances bode well ahead of tomorrow's clash with the West Indies at Clontarf.
- Niall O'Brien presents Mark Adair with his cap
- Joe Root congratulates Jofra Archer as he takes the field
- David Willey opening the attack
- David Willey follow through
- 1st over lbw appeal by Willey
- Discussion about review
- England hopeful but Porterfield is Not Out
- Liam Plunkett in the field
- Paul Stirling smashes Archer's opening delivery for a boundary
- Jofra Archer to try again
- In the stands
- Liam Plunkett in bowling action
- Paul Stirling down the pitch to Tom Curran...
- ...anxious look from Stirling...
- ...and a good catch by Archer diving forward
- Tm Curran takes the congratulations
- Porterfield gloves a catch down the leg side
- Another review coming up?
- Eoin Morgan in the field
- Lorcan Tucker glances a boundary
- Popped up by Tucker....
- ....where Captain Morgan holds an easy chance
- A wicket for Plunkett
- Kevin O'Brien slices a drive to slip...
- ...where Denly is the catcher
- Wilson quick single, Plunkett quick fielding
- Andy Balbirnie into the leg side
- Balbirnie sweeps
- Joe Denly bowling
- A watchful Balbirnie
- Appeal for a catch off Balbirnie.....
- ...and umpire Kumar Dharmasena gives it out - reviewed and overturned
- Gary Wilson edges Rashid to Root at slip
- Balbirnie overbalances and is stumped
- Mark Adair into the stands
- A second 6 in the over for Adair
- Adair is yorked by Jofra Archer
- First wicket for Archer
- Time to get a move on
- Time to put the brakes on Tim
- 'Lambeth Lara' at his best
- Top edge from Murtagh....
- ...and Foakes waits open mouthed
- George Dockrell hits a catch to Morgan in the covers
- Slower ball deceives Josh Little
- Malan one-handed into the covers
- Mark Adair took the new ball
- James Vince
- A Malan miscue lands safe
- George Dockrell holds a stunner to remove Vince
- Not worth reviewing Malan tells Joe Root
- Despair from Eoin Morgan as has gloved a bouncer from Little
- Not a Little joy from the bowler
- Celebrations continue as Morgan departs
- Josh Little in action
- Thoughtful Porterfield
- More joy for Little
- A mystified Gary Wilson
- Ben Foakes cuts Stirling will field
- David Willey off the back foot
- Willey lofts Little to long leg....
- ...where Mark Adair holds the catch
- Congratulations Mark
- Umpire Paul Reynolds keeps Kumar right
- Ben Foakes steers to third man
- Lucky says Gary
- 50 for Foakes
- Tom Curran in the air...
- ...Lorcan Tucker can't hold the chance
- Handshakes as England win
- Two Surrey keepers talk it over
- William Porterfield interviewed by John Kenny of RTE
- Eoin Morgan with the match trophy