Monday 21 October 2019

Balbirnie's 'dream innings' levels series for Ireland

Cricket

Balbirnie hit eight sixes and as many fours to finish on 145 not out from 136 balls as he swept the Boys in Green home with an over to spare. Stock photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Balbirnie hit eight sixes and as many fours to finish on 145 not out from 136 balls as he swept the Boys in Green home with an over to spare. Stock photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Andy Balbirnie struck a stunning unbeaten century in Dehradun yesterday to steer Ireland to a superb four-wicket victory over Afghanistan that levelled the one-day international series at 1-1 with two matches to play.

In probably the best ODI innings for Ireland since Kevin O'Brien's epic against England at the 2011 World Cup, Balbirnie hit eight sixes and as many fours to finish on 145 not out from 136 balls as he swept the Boys in Green home with an over to spare.

Chasing down the hosts' 256-8, Ireland slipped to 29-3 and looked to have a mountain to climb, but O'Brien helped steady the ship adding 44 with Balbirnie for the fourth wicket.

Ireland were still long odds against recording their first victory of the tour when Balbirnie was joined by George Dockrell on 73-4 but the former U-19 team-mates turned the match on its head with a controlled stand of 143 in 27.4 overs.

Dockrell reached his half-century with a six but was then stumped two balls later for 54, and when Stuart Poynter fell for a duck, it need Andy McBrine to hold his nerve and give Balbirnie the support required.

"There were a couple of scary moments but you've got to take that risk as they have got world-class bowlers in their side," Balbirnie said.

"We haven't had practice the last two days because of the weather, so to play a knock like that is very special for myself and the team. When you go out and bat, you dream of having that kind of innings."

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