England’s T20 World Cup hopes have suffered a crushing blow as Ireland repeated their historics of 2011, winning by five runs (DLS) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
As the rain tumbled down and umpires Adrian Holdstock and Paul Reiffell called a halt to proceedings, England were five wickets down and still required 53 runs off 33 balls with Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone at the crease.
Despite Ali dispatching the first half of leg-spinner Gareth Delany’s over for 14 runs, England were forced off five runs short of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern target in the 15th over, handing them a shock loss.
After being sent in to bat, Heinrich Malan’s side got off to a flyer as they raced to 103/1 inside 12 overs with captain Andrew Balbirnie leading by example scoring a wonderful 62 off just 47 balls for his first World Cup half-century.
But after Balbirnie fell at the end of the 12th over, England’s bowlers made amends for their lacklustre start by restricting Ireland to just 54 runs off their final eight overs as Livingstone’s leg spin and Mark Wood’s rockets provided three wickets apiece, leaving 158 needed to win.
The run chase got off to a rocky start as Josh Little removed Jos Buttler with the second ball of the innings, the England captain playing a flashing drive and providing an edge through to Lorcan Tucker behind the stumps.
From there Ireland’s seam bowlers rallied as Little and Fionn Hand removed Alex Hales and Ben Stokes respectively in the powerplay, both recording single-digit scores.
Malan’s stable knock of 35 off 37 balls saw England limp to just 86/5 after 13.1 overs, needing 72 from 41 balls to avoid defeat.
Ali’s short but sweet cameo of 24 not out provided hope towards the end but was in vain as the rain proved terminal for England.
The loss now means Matthew Mott’s side will likely have to win out from here and with Australia and New Zealand still to face, they’re in real danger of being axed from the tournament in the group stages.
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Feature image credit: Tourism Victoria via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 2.0