Ireland stunned England at the Ageas Bowl as the visitors completed a miraculous chase of 329 with one ball to spare.
Winning the toss and electing to field for the first time in the three-match series, many might have considered Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie a brave man given England’s tendency to score big runs given the chance.
His decision was vindicated early on, however, when the hosts slumped to 44-3 as Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, and James Vince all fell cheaply, epitomising the series for Vince and Roy who have struggled to get going.
England captain Eoin Morgan counter-attacked with great effect and when he brought his 100 up in double quick time, the signs were ominous once more for the Irish. In partnership with youngster Tom Bantom, who made his first international half-century, England got to 190 before Morgan fell for 108.
Late order runs from David Willey and Tom Curran forced the host’s total upwards, and when the final wicket fell with a ball to spare, the score was 328, perhaps not the lofty heights of previous England efforts recently, but still a formidable target.
The Ireland response got off to a brisk start, although when Gareth Delany fell for just 12, bowled by David Willey, the signs weren’t good.
However, Middlesex opener Paul Stirling smashed 142 off 128 balls and captain Balbirnie 113 off 112, sharing a superb stand of 214 for the second wicket, becoming Irish heroes and taking their side to the brink of a famous win.
Both men fell within 15 runs of one another bringing 20-year-old Harry Tector and England’s nemesis of Bangalore, Kevin O’Brien, to the crease. Each of them found boundaries early to ease the pressure and when the final over arrived, eight runs were needed for Ireland to claim only their second win over the World Champions in ODI cricket.
Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood bowled the final over and when the third delivery was a no-ball for a waist-high full toss, the writing was on the wall and the visitors got home with one ball to spare in a thrilling finale.
It was a jubilant night for Ireland, who finished the series with a memorable win and earned themselves 10 points in the new qualification league for the 2023 World Cup.