England eased to a comfortable six-wicket win over Ireland, on the World champions’ return to one-day internationals at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, a victory that gives the hosts a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
After winning the toss and electing the field first in fine South Coast conditions, England captain Eoin Morgan couldn’t have wished for a better start against the country of his birth. The Irish lost the dangerous Paul Stirling in the first over before slumping to 28/5, mainly down to the new-ball exploits of Yorkshire’s David Willey.
With multiple big-name absentees off on Test match duty, Willey took his opportunity, taking his first five-wicket haul in international cricket on his return to the side.
Ireland’s innings was salvaged somewhat thanks to an unbeaten 59 by 21-year-old debutant Curtis Campher, an impressive performance from someone in their first outing with his side’s backs-to-the-wall. A quickfire late order 40 from Andy McBrine ensured Ireland managed a more respectable total but they were still bowled out inside 45 overs for 172.
Despite England losing the top order cheaply – they slipped to 78/4 to offer a glimmer of hope to the opposition – the chase was never likely to cause too much concern for the reigning ICC World champions as they had such a lengthy batting lineup.
Sam Billings put pay to any chances the Irish had of an unlikely victory with a rapid 67 off just 58 balls, whilst captain Morgan finished unbeaten on 36 at the other end to see his side home.
The six-wicket win gives England 10 points in their first game of the newly formed World Cup Super League and a 1-0 lead ahead of the second ODI on Saturday before the final match on Tuesday.