Foakes’ fight ensures England overcome Irish scare

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AFP

A classy unbeaten 67 from England debutant Ben Foakes helped his team secure a four-wicket win against Ireland in the one-off one-day international between the sides at The Village in Dublin.

Another debutant had threatened to steal the show, with Ireland’s 19-year-old Joshua Little claiming four wickets as England’s chase of 199 almost came off the rails. He had James Vince spectacularly caught at midwicket by George Dockrell to kick-start Ireland’s defence before bouncing out England captain Eoin Morgan.

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Then Tim Murtagh seamed one back into Joe Root’s pads in time-honoured fashion, before two more brilliant catches, one from keeper Gary Wilson playing his 100th ODI off Little and another at midwicket by Kevin O’Brien off Boyd Rankin left England at 66/5 and sinking fast.

Little's four wickets almost rescued Ireland
Little’s four wickets almost rescued Ireland

David Willey and Foakes helped repair some of the damage before Little returned to have the former caught at fine leg attempting to up the rate. Foakes again took stock, this time in the company of Tom Curran, before decisively changing tack. He struck his first boundary – a six – off his 56th ball, and followed up with his second two balls later.

Ireland had one last chance, when Murtagh struck Foakes on the pad, but declined to take a review. HawkEye later indicated the Englishman would have been given out had they gone upstairs; instead he and Curran guided England home.

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Gary Wilson claimed a special catch behind the stumps
Gary Wilson claimed a special catch behind the stumps

Earlier, Ireland had got off to a strong start thanks to openers Paul Stirling and William Porterfield, who put on a half-century first-wicket stand before Stirling hit Curran to mid-on, where debutant Jofra Archer took a good low catch.

From then on they lost wickets regularly. Porterfield tickled Liam Plunkett down the leg side in the following over and two overs later debutant Lorcan Tucker chipped tamely to cover. O’Brien then fell to a good catch by Joe Denly at backward point off a thick outside edge.

Plunkett's four-for was a welcome return to international form
Plunkett’s four-for was a welcome return to international form
Wilson and Andrew Balbirnie attempted to rebuild, the latter striking a six and a four off England’s leg-spin pair of Denly and Adil Rashid, but the slow bowlers struck back, the latter deceiving Wilson with a googly which the Irishman edged to slip, and the former claiming his first ODI wicket off a leg-side wide, which Foakes alertly held onto long enough for Balbirnie to lift his back foot before whipping off the bails.

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Debutant Mark Adair sparkled briefly, flat-batting Archer down the ground for four before smashing Curran for two sixes in an over. Archer would have the last laugh, a 90 mph yorker bowling Adair, his first international wicket earned in typically eye-catching fashion.

Ireland reverted to batting out time, but two in two balls from Plunkett left them nine down before Curran finished things off. Ireland’s 198 seemed too little, but thanks to Little, it almost proved just enough.