The introduction of the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup Super League is set to reduce the number of inconsequential matches. A fine example of that would be tomorrow’s game between England and Ireland. Despite having conceded the series, Ireland would look to clinch a victory, thereby achieving 10 vital points to open their account in the points table of the Super League. England, too, would vie for the same, to ensure a good head-start over other teams in the Super League.
Ireland’s bowlers have proven in the last two games that they can put up a good fight with disciplined spells of bowling. Due to their batting woes, their bowlers have had too much on their plate.
William Porterfield’s exclusion in the first two games has baffled quite a lot of people. Given that Harry Tector got off to a good start in the previous game, the second of his career, and Gareth Delany’s failure in both matches, captain Andrew Balbirnie can consider slotting the veteran left-hander in the playing XI in the top of the order, despite the fact that Porterfield gave up the opening slot last November.
Speaking of Andrew Balbirnie, the Ireland captain and his deputy Paul Stirling are due for a big knock in this series, if they do not fall to irresponsible shots as they did twice in this series. Stirling has gone 10 ODIs now against England without breaching the 50+ barrier in a single innings.
Ireland also need to consider a promotion in the batting order for 21-year-old Curtis Campher, who has figuratively been the lone warrior among the Ireland batsmen so far in the series, averaging a staggering 127 with fifties in both games. Campher has been effective with the ball so far as well, providing crucial breakthroughs.
Much like Paul Stirling, England opener Jason Roy is also due for a big innings. It was his opening partner, Jonny Bairstow, who delivered the goods last time. Roy, too, did get off to a flier in the first game, threatening to finish the game off in the first 10 overs of the innings. Sadly, his innings was cut short as he was trapped in front by Young.
Unlike Ireland’s Andrew Balbirnie, James Vince does not have the shield of leading his ODI team to protect his place in the side. Tomorrow’s game might serve as his last chance to prove himself in the ODI format. Although the stakes are not as high for Tom Banton, he needs to understand that his skipper has demoted himself to number 5 so that he can bat freely and make this opportunity count, something has Sam Billings has aced to perfection in both games, having stayed in the middle till the end and guiding his team to victories.
Team News – England
One has to feel bad for left-arm pacer Reece Topley. Having played his first ODI in four years, picking up a wicket for 31 in his 9 overs, he has been ruled out of tomorrow’s game owing to a left groin strain. The management, though, assured that the situation is not too grave, and he can return to action in two weeks. Tom Curran is expected to return to the XI. The selectors might consider giving a fair opportunity to Lancashire batsman Liam Livingstone and left-arm spinner Liam Dawson, given that the series is won and the two of them haven’t had a game, despite being in the squad.
Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow (wk), James Vince, Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Liam Livingstone, Liam Dawson, David Willey, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid, Saqib Mahmood
Team News – Ireland
The only major change that the Irish can make is include the experienced William Porterfield to their XI, something that has been the talking point in the two previous games. As mentioned above, Curtis Campher’s expectation-exceeding performance with the bat might merit an elevation for him in the batting order. Considering the number of right-handers in the England batting line-up, Ireland may have missed a trick in the two previous games by not including left-arm orthodox spinner George Dockrell, which they can do tomorrow in place of Simi Singh.
Paul Stirling, William Porterfield, Andrew Balbirnie (c), Harry Tector, Curtis Campher, Kevin O’Brien, Lorcan Tucker (wk), Andy McBrine, Craig Young, Joshua Little, George Dockrell,
Venue – The Ageas Bowl, Southampton, Hampshire
The pitch seemed to be a good batting deck in the last two games, also occasionally helping the quicks with steep bounce. The spinners, especially Adil Rashid, was getting the ball to turn quite a lot. So, it can be expected that the pitch will offer something or the other to everyone tomorrow. Clear skies have been predicted for tomorrow, ensuring a non-curtailed game.