Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie gushed over his team's remarkable victory against England in the third and final ODI of the series, earning them 10 points on the CWC Super League table.
The win was a particularly rewarding one for Balbirnie, who helped shape Ireland's record chase of 329 with a splendid 113, adding 214 for the second wicket with Paul Stirling, who scored 142 off 128 balls.
That performance came just as concerns were growing over the form of the top-order batsmen after Ireland had been reduced to 28/5 in the first ODI of the series, and 44/4 in the next.
Magnificent as the victory was in itself, it was made more special by the fact that it took Ireland off the mark on the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League with 10 points. Although just a start, Balbirnie feels this victory will do a lot to boost Ireland's confidence in their quest to earn direct qualification for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup in 2023.
🏏 255 runs— ICC (@ICC) August 5, 2020
🔥 21 fours, 6 sixes
Between them Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie scored 77.5% of Ireland's total of 329 in yesterday's #ENGvIRE ODI 💥 pic.twitter.com/9Li5Op0Ho9
"It's a huge win for this group. For young guys to be involved in a win like this is special and they'll remember it for forever. To be able to get up and running in the Super League is great," Balbirnie said after the match.
"I said before the series that qualifying automatically for the World Cup will be our greatest achievement," he said. "It's going to be so tough. We're going to play in tough conditions. It's a good start, it's good to get on the board. Coming away from here with no points would've been disappointing."
Records tumbled as Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie put together a 214-run partnership to lead Ireland in a chase of 329 to win.#ENGvIRE REPORT 👇 https://t.co/MH168rRQzo pic.twitter.com/bb2j8JmtZc— ICC (@ICC) August 4, 2020
Another delightful aspect of Ireland's victory was Stirling's return to form. When on song, he is a destructive force at the top of the order. His knock on Tuesday featured nine fours and six sixes, providing key impetus in a stiff chase. Moreover, his aggressive approach allowed Balbirnie the time to work his way back into form after he'd been dismissed for 3 and 15 in the first two matches.
"I thought Paul was as good as I've seen him play. He set the tempo in the first PowerPlay," Balbirnie said. "I love to bat with Paul. He's my favourite player to bat with. When he's in that kind of a mood, you go under the radar a bit and that suits me. I've been a bit frustrated with the way I've gone and the way I've been dismissed in the last two games so to get a 100 and contribute to a win as captain like that is so satisfying."