England v Ireland, 2nd ODI, Southampton – Bairstow bash helps England coast to series win

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That was certainly one of the most bizarre games of Cricket witnessed in recent times. It seemed like the batting order of both Ireland and England were challenging themselves rather than their opposition.

On a flat deck which seemed to offer good bounce and carry to the pacers, and had something for the spinners later in the day, Ireland’s innings got off to a decent start after they elected to bat first, courtesy of two crisp off-drives for fours from Paul Stirling in the second over.

His opening partner, young Gareth Delany, though, had a hard time out in the middle. After being beaten several times, his technique was found wanting when a delivery from David Willey seamed back in and struck him right in front of the stumps.

Willey’s first ball of his next over saw the back of Stirling, loosely driving a delivery well outside off towards backward point, where Tom Banton took an excellent catch, diving to his left.

A good spell of bowling followed from Willey and Reece Topley, who earned a place in the ODI side after 4 long years of being in the sidelines.

Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie did the hard work of negotiating the spell from the two left armers, hit two cracking boundaries, before falling inexplicably to the part-time medium pace of James Vince, caught behind after… pulling out of a pull.

Kevin O’Brien came undone by Adil Rashid once again, but this time there was not much he could have done. Rashid completely bamboozled him with a googly that pitched on off, turned back in sharply, went right through his defence and hit middle, a dream delivery for a wrist spinner.

It was yet again down to the youngsters to bat Ireland back in the game. Harry Tector and ‘keeper Lorcan Tucker joined forces to build a steady partnership. The duo was batting really well until inexperience got the better of both of them. Tector, who was well and truly set for a big knock, needlessly attempted to hit Rashid over mid-on and ended up spooning a simple catch to Saqib Mahmood. Tucker followed soon after, sweeping the same bowler from miles outside off stump, ending up top-edging the ball and being caught by Topley at square leg.

It was down to young Curtis Campher yet again to rebuild the innings from a down and out situation for Ireland, and once again, he did not disappoint. Joined by Simi Singh, the 21-year-old Johannesburg born all-rounder showed maturity way beyond his age, rotating the strike and playing out the immediate threat.

A blow to the helmet off Mahmood did not faze him either, as he soon started to find the odd boundary. Simi Singh, who was giving him good company at the other end, fell after trying to attempt a cheeky dab to third man off Mahmood, only managed to nick it behind. The arrival of left-hander Andy McBrine saw a slight spike in the run rate, despite a maiden 44th over from Topley.

Campher brought up a well-deserved second fifty in his first two games, becoming the 1st Irishman to achieve the feat, with a scoop for four off Topley. He then decided to step on the accelerator, which resulted in 15 off the following over from Willey, also bringing up Ireland’s 200 in the process.

An excellent 48th over from Topley, which had McBrine trying his best to hit the ball all the way to Bournemouth and failing miserably, killed the momentum and the hopes for Ireland to get to at least 225.

Campher finally registered an ODI batting average the next over after being caught at third man trying to launch Mahmood over the off side. Topley was finally rewarded with a well-deserved wicket, his first in 4 years, as he dismissed McBrine off the last ball of the innings. Ireland, succeeding in batting out the 50 overs this time, set England a target of 213.

ALSO READ: Debut performance of Curtis Campher a huge positive: Andrew Balbirnie

The loss of Jason Roy in the first over, loosely scooping a catch to Delany at cover might have raised some optimism in the Irish camp, but upon seeing his opening partner Jonny Bairstow teeing off, all hopes of a fightback seemed to diminish rather quickly.

The robust Yorkshireman, unfazed about the conditions and the situation at hand, completely toyed with the bowlers throughout the first 10 overs, in the process bringing up a 21-ball fifty in the 8th over, with a monstrous over-boundary over long-off off McBrine.

His partner, James Vince, who had the best seat in the house all along, ended up doing the most James Vince-like thing yet again; after a promising start which had two elegant hits to the cover fence, he had his middle stump uprooted by an in-ducker from Curtis Campher, who clearly seemed to have the Midas’ touch for the Irish.

Campher was at it again four overs later, trapping a menacing Tom Banton for a run-a-ball 15. None of the chaos at the other end seemed to perturb Bairstow, who continued on his merry way, striking at over 200, making batting look like child’s play.

It almost seemed like Bairstow was batting in a different game to the one being played, as if he misread the target as 413 in place of 213, in the process reaching 3,000 ODI runs.

Once he was finally dismissed, caught behind off Joshua Little, the scoreboard presented a bizarre sight for a One Day game; 4 wickets were lost in 16 overs with the score on 131, 82 still needed for victory.

Billings proceeded to pick up from where Bairstow left, but he saw his skipper Eoin Morgan fall rather cheaply at the other end, guiding Little straight to the hands of….you guessed it, Curtis ‘Midas’ Campher at cover for a two-ball duck. The dismissal of Moeen Ali by the same bowler three balls later brought back some life into the match.

It was time for David Willey, who performed brilliantly with the ball over the two games, to shine with the bat. After taking a couple of overs to settle in, he decided to keep going with the bizarre aggressive approach adopted by England.

A six off Little was followed by two cracking hits to the fence off Campher in the following over by the all-rounder, which brought the momentum back for England.

Billings decided to play anchor, displaying a few glorious strokes in the process, as Willey tucked into the bowling.

 

In the process, the duo raised a fifty-run partnership in the 29th over, and handed England an unassailable led of 2-0 in the 3 match series four overs later, with Willey sealing the win with a swat over backward square leg for four.

Brief scores:

Ireland 212/9 (50 Overs)

Curtis Campher 68, Harry Tector 28, Adil Rashid 3/34

England 216/6 (32.3 Overs)

Jonny Bairstow 82, David Willey 47*, Sam Billings 46*, Joshua Little 3/60

England won by 4 wickets

Player of the Match: Jonny Bairstow