Ireland stun England in record chase
Ireland chased a World Cup record 328 to register the first big upset of the 2011 tournament, beating England by three wickets in Bangalore on Wednesday.
The underdogs looked dead and buried at 111/5 in the 25th over, but a remarkable, record-shattering innings by Kevin O’Brien turned things around and set up the greatest day in Irish cricketing history.
O’Brien’s knock of 113 was easily the fastest hundred in World Cup history. He brought up his ton in just 50 balls, and his entire innings lasted just 63.
O’Brien’s innings featured some huge hits, including the biggest six of the tournament so far, but it began simply as a carefree effort in what looked like a losing cause. But great support by Alex Cusack (47 off 58 in a partnership of 162 for the sixth wicket) and then John Mooney (33 off 30) spread increasing panic amongst the England ranks and made the upset possible.
By the time Man of the Match O’Brien was run out in the penultimate over, the game was more or less won for Ireland, and they got home with five balls to spare.
England’s fielding was again dreadful as they let both catch and run-out chances go astray, but it should be said that there were no major blunders in O’Brien’s classy innings itself.
Ireland rode their luck many a time with the ball falling into gaps, but England had done the same earlier in the day.
“I can’t believe it, I’m speechless,” said O’Brien. “It was best innings I’ve ever played. It just came off for me, I got a bit of luck and things went my way. I kept going, kept attacking, and it was our day, you know.
“At 111/5 we could have pottered around and got 220, and it would have been a pretty boring game to watch. So I chanced my arm and decided to attack.
“Taking the power play at 31 overs was crucial too, as we got 62 runs in that.”
Earlier, fifties for Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott helped England to a good total of 327/8.
England openers Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen got their side away to another fine start -- their third 50 stand in as many games in this World Cup -- before each got out to the spinners in rather unsightly fashion.
The score was 91/0 in the 14th over when birthday boy Strauss was bowled by George Dockrell for 34. Twenty runs and three overs later Pietersen got caught behind off part-time spinner Paul Stirling for a 50-ball 59. Each opener played an impatient shot that they won’t be proud of, but they’d set things up well for England.
From that point Ireland managed to slow the scoring somewhat, with Stirling bowling ten straight overs at a reasonable cost of 45 runs.
But third-wicket pairing Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell grew increasingly comfortable as they put on 50 and then 100 runs together. The England 200 came up in the 34th over, and with eight wickets standing a big score always looked on.
The third-wicket stand of 167 finally came to an end in the 43rd over, when Bell was caught off the last ball of England’s productive 45-run batting power play.
That dismissal put Bell back in the hut for 81, and Trott followed soon after when he was bowled by Mooney for a run-a-ball 92. The South African-born player may have fallen short of his ton, but his knock did take him to 1 000 ODI runs in 21 innings, equalling the mark set by Sir Viv Richards and Trott’s countryman Kevin Pietersen.
With Trott out the score was 288/4, and it was left to the middle and lower order to make the best of the last five and a half overs.
The ‘death’ went reasonably well from an Irish perspective, as they claimed four England wickets and kept the score down to a 227/8.
Ireland were generally good in the field, and unlucky that a few mistimed shots from the England batsmen fell into gaps. But they did squander a key opportunity to run out Trott in the 24th over, which really did cost them dear.
Their bowling control also deteriorated as Trott and Bell pushed, with 20 runs conceded through wides. Mooney picked up four wickets, including the big ones of Trott and Bell, but Stirling was probably the pick of the bowlers for his economy rate.
England – Andrew Strauss (capt), Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior (wk), Michael Yardy, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
Ireland – William Porterfield (capt), Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, Niall O’Brien (wk), Alex Cusack, Kevin O’Brien, Andre Botha, John Mooney, Trent Johnston, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin