England trotted to a four-wicket victory in the second ODI against Ireland on Saturday to take an unassailable 2-0 series lead with one game remaining.
After the bowlers set England up well with Ireland managing just 212/9 from their 50 overs, the hosts lost Jason Roy in the first over, but a stunning 82 from 41 balls from Johnny Bairstow set England up well for victory.
England lost three wickets for just six runs as the middle order failed to deliver, but a handy partnership between Sam Billings and David Willey helped England move toward victory – the world champions eventually passing Ireland’s total with 105 balls remaining.
Willey shines early again
Andrew Balbirnie won the toss and decided to bat, but Willey starred once again with the new ball for England, dismissing both openers in the opening powerplay – Gareth Delany LBW for a duck and Paul Stirling caught by Tom Banton at backward point.
Reece Topley, playing his first international game since 2016, also opened the bowling but a few eyebrows were raised when James Vince, who averaged 62 with the ball before the game, was brought on for his first international to bowl after 12 overs.
Vince backed up the decision with the wicket of Balbirnie in the 14th over – caught behind by Bairstow.
Wickets in the middle
Kevin O’Brien (3), Harry Tector (28) and Lorcan Tucker (21) were all dismissed by the impressive Adil Rashid – who took his 150th ODI wicket for England in the game – as the hosts squeezed in the middle overs, but youngster Curtis Campher once again provided some solidarity when he went to the crease.
Simi Singh provided Campher with a partner as the duo put on 60, but the offspinner edged Saqib Mahmood behind for 25 in the 42nd over to leave Ireland 151-7.
Andy McBrine then made his way out to the middle but was almost run out off his first ball. The left-hander poked Mahmood to Willey at mid-off and set off for a quick single that wasn’t there – Willey threw to the stumps at the non-striker’s end, but missed, and McBrine survived.
Campher almost lost his wicket not long after when he took a Willey short ball on, but the ball landed in a gap, just wide of Billings in the deep.
Willey and Topley were brought back on by Eoin Morgan towards the end, and Willey wasn’t best pleased when McBrine charged down the track to slap him back over his head in the 45th over.
Campher reached his 50 from 78 balls in the 46th over with a ramp shot for four off Topley – that’s now back-to-back half-centuries for the 21-year-old.
He then slapped Willey for three fours in an over as Ireland increased the run rate, but fell to Mahmood for 68 following a good catch from Rashid off a thick outside edge towards the end.
Bairstow dropped new batsman Craig Young after the bowler skied Mahmood high into the air, and Willey dropped the same man in the following over after a brilliant Topley slower ball.
Some good death bowling nonetheless from Topley helped restrict the visitors to 212/9 from their 50 overs as the Surrey seamer had McBrine caught behind off the last ball - 1,597 days after his last international wicket.
Campher again the star of Ireland’s innings - Rashid, who took 34/3 off his 10 overs, the best of England’s bowlers.
Bairstow leads the charge
Roy and Bairstow made their ways out to open the batting for England, but Roy was gone off the third ball of innings. A wide half-volley from Young was slapped straight to cover, where Delaney took a simple catch to leave England 0/1.
Bairstow soon inside edged Joshua Little past his own stumps for four, but the ‘keeper-batsman decided to attack and his 50 partnership with Vince was up at the start of the seventh over, with Bairstow slapping the ball to all parts of the ground.
Bairstow brought you his own 50 with a six down the ground from 21 balls, equaling his captain, Eoin Morgan, for the fastest ever ODI 50 for England.
Middle order struggles
Vince was, though, bowled by the impressive Campher for 16 - middle stump out the ground via a ball that nipped back in.
Banton, in again at four, edged his fifth ball past his own stumps for a four, and soon he fell to Campher, who is quickly becoming Banton’s cricketing nemesis, LBW for 15, leaving England 98/3 off 12.2 overs.
Thursday’s hero Billings made his way to the middle and he was off the mark with a cut through the offside second ball, bringing England’s 100 up in the process.
Bairstow became the joint fastest player in terms of the number of innings, alongside Joe Root, to score 3000 ODI runs for England when he outside edged to the third man boundary, but was dismissed for 82 off 40 balls when he edged a Little wide delivery behind to Tucker.
The fun from Bairstow was over, and Morgan made his way out. His stay was short, though, powering Little to Campher at point to be dismissed for a duck.
Little soon had his third as Moeen Ali skied a relatively short ball high into the air, caught by Tucker, and England still needed 76 to win when Willey went out to the crease.
England see it home
Ireland perhaps missed a chance, though, to put the pressure on England, and Billings (46*) and Willey (47*) put on an unbeaten 79 partnership to see England over the line with 105 balls remaining.