Ireland fights gamely before falling 23 runs short in rain-affected ODI in Belfast
There was plenty of rain on Thursday (August 27) , but there was just about enough sunshine to ensure a result in Belfast, with Australia, the ICC world champions, winning by 23 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method against Ireland in the one-off One-Day International.
Ireland began by chasing 195 in 27 overs, in a game that was originally meant to be a 47-overs-a-side contest. That target was further truncated to 181 in 24 overs after a sharp downpour six overs into Ireland’s innings. Losing William Porterfield and Paul Stirling inside two overs before the rain break meant the home team's revised target became steeper.
Although Ed Joyce (44) and Niall O’Brien (45) came up with sprightly knocks to keep Irish hopes alive, Australia had enough firepower to extinguish any chances of an upset. In the end, Ireland was bowled out for 157 in 23.4 overs, with Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins picking up three and two wickets respectively.
While the bowling effort was impressive, Australia's batting was carried by the openers. Australia was in a safe zone largely thanks to the 139-run opening stand between David Warner and Joe Burns, the debutant. While the middle order didn't get big runs, Australia's fiery start had the side decently placed at 222 for 6 in 40.2 overs when the rain came down to end their innings.
Burns, fresh off a successful outing for Australia A in India earlier this month, went at almost a run-a-ball in his 69, hitting seven fours and a six. While he did the early running, Warner, typically aggressive, soon caught up and matched him stroke for stroke to leave Ireland’s inexperienced attack searching for answers in blustery conditions.
The 139-run stand was brought to an end as Craig Young had Burns caught behind by Niall O’Brien in the 22nd over to give Ireland a breakthrough.
Steven Smith, in his first game as Australia’s full-time ODI captain, continued from where he left off at The Oval in the Ashes finale. But it was all too brief as the wickets of Warner (84), George Bailey (1) and Glenn Maxwell (2) left him having to do the repair job with the threat of rain looming.
Regular wickets curbed Smith’s natural game somewhat, as he perished for 21 to leave Australia at 190 for 5, with Tim Murtagh and Andy McBrine, the offspinner, choking the runs superbly.
Australia then recovered briefly courtesy Shane Watson, who made an unbeaten 26, to set itself up for a final burst in the last 10 overs, but a thin drizzle that turned into a proper downpour resulted in the innings drawing to a close.
In the end, the visiting side had enough to come out victorious and head into the ODI series against England with much-needed momentum.To see the full scorecard, please click here.