Porterfield knock helps Ireland to restore pride
William Porterfield restored a bit of pride for Ireland at Lord's yesterday with a hard-hitting 82 from 83 balls before the historic first ODI between the two sides at the 'Home of Cricket' ended in a comfortable 85-run victory for England.
After the shambles of an Irish performance in Bristol, even the sternest critic would have to agree this was much, much better as England were restricted to 328-6, but still not good enough with the Boys in Green being dismissed for 243 in reply.
Paul Stirling got the chase off to a flyer with three successive fours in the second over and another two in the next on the ground where he plays for Middlesex.
The Belfast boy also lifted a big six over square leg before he was caught behind for 48.
An out-of-touch Ed Joyce was bowled for 16 and when Andy Balbirnie fell lbw for two there were fears that Ireland's fragile batting would fold, as it had in the first match when the last eight wickets could only muster 46 between them.
Not this time, though. Niall O'Brien hoisted a defiant six into the pavilion, his brother Kevin smashed two more in an all-too-brief 18 from 10 balls and Porterfield kept the target just about in sight while adding 45 for the seventh wicket with George Dockrell.
A six from Dockrell left Ireland needing 108 from the final 10 overs but then the skipper was bowled attempting to strike a seventh boundary and the tail quickly folded.
"We were much improved today," Porterfield said. "After Bristol it would have been easy to hide away, but we took a step forward.
"Even when we were six down we kept going but we were always a couple of wickets behind the game. If we'd had those wickets in hand there at the back end it could have been very interesting.
"The lads put their hands up and a lot of credit to Barry McCarthy for coming in for a big game after not playing many against Afghanistan.
"We bowled well and did a lot of hard work in the field. It would have been difficult to walk away just having Friday's game and I think we put a lot of things right here."
Until 51 runs came from the last three overs, Ireland had dreams of restricting the home side to fewer than 300. Former coach Adi Birrell maintained that regardless of ability with bat and ball, Ireland should always compete with the best in the field and boundary stops by Balbirnie and Gary Wilson plus an acrobatic 'saved six' by Dockrell as he fell over the ropes did just that.
Tim Murtagh made the initial breakthrough, bowling Alex Hales in the 11th over, then Stirling held the first of four fine Irish outfield takes - clinging on to a 'catch-it-or-wear-it' throat-high drive at short extra cover.
Dublin-born Eoin Morgan emerged from the pavilion to a few good-natured jeers from the large Irish contingent in the crowd of 22,000 and proceeded to hit two sixes on his way to 76 - the second time he has top-scored against his former colleagues.
Peter Chase, who again impressed, ended a partnership of 140 between the white- and red-ball England captains when Joe Root drove to Balbirnie at mid-off and when Joyce tumbled to catch Morgan off McCarthy at the start of the 39th over England were 213-4.
Scores in excess of 300 are routine in ODIs these days and Jonny Bairstow ensured the home side achieved that with three sixes in his 72 not out from 44 balls but Chase and McCarthy can be satisfied to have conceded fewer than seven runs per over.