Eoin Morgan hit a match-winning hundred at Malahide, to lead England to a six-wicket win over Ireland in the one-off One-Day International on Tuesday (September 3).
Morgan had played cricket on the very ground in front of a handful of spectators as a 13-year-old, and today he finished with 124 not out (106 balls) in front of nearly 10,000 people, hitting his fourth six to win the match.
Morgan, who was leading England in the absence of the rested Alastair Cook, shared a world record fifth wicket ODI partnership of 226 with Ravi Bopara, who deservedly reached his own century before England chased down its victory target of 270 with seven overs to spare.
Morgan's sixth ODI century (five for England and one for Ireland), contained eight fours and four sixes. Bopara scored his runs at an even faster clip, hitting 101 not out in just 75 balls, with ten fours and five sixes. The duo ensured that England had a morale-boosting win ahead of its five-match ODI series against Australia starting on Friday.
Morgan wasn't the only Irishman in English red on Tuesday though, with Boyd Rankin given an England debut after 38 ODIs for Ireland. Rankin was England’s most successful bowler, and returned figures 4 for 46 as Ireland was restricted to 269 for 7.
William Porterfield, the captain, dominated that innings, scoring his tenth century for Ireland. Porterfield's international statistics stand up with the best of them -- this was his second hundred to add to four 50s in ten innings.
Porterfield brought up his hundred with a huge six, off Rankin, before he was bowled by his old Ireland team-mate. However, for the second big match in row, Porterfield was let down by Ireland's bowlers.
In May, Pakistan was 133 for 7, chasing 240, and it won by two wickets, and on Tuesday, thanks to Tim Murtagh's impressive opening spell, Bopara came to the middle with England struggling on 48 for 4.
Rankin was one of three England debutants but it was not such a good day for the other two.
Gary Ballance was out for a second-ball duck and Michael Carberry put down two catches, including Porterfield on 85, bowled one over which cost 12 runs and was then the first England wicket to fall, in Trent Johnston's second over, for 10.
Earlier, Rankin had dismissed Stirling and Ed Joyce in quick succession, while James Tredwell picked up the next two wickets. Ireland’s hopes rested on Kevin O’Brien, who had hit a whirlwind hundred against England in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, leading Ireland to a stunning win in Bangalore. But O’Brien fell, caught by Morgan at midwicket, leaving Ireland 161 for 5.
Though Porterfield gave Ireland a good total eventually, it proved too little in the end.