Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie scored 62 against England
Melbourne (AFP) - Captain Andy Balbirnie smashed 62 to give Ireland a great start against England in the T20 World Cup at an overcast Melbourne Wednesday, but they were dragged back to 157 all out with Liam Livingstone and Mark Wood taking three wickets apiece.
The English are among the title favourites and heavily-fancied to beat Ireland after opening their tournament with a five-wicket win over Afghanistan at the weekend.
But the Irish, who lost their opening Super 12 round match by nine wickets to Sri Lanka, had other ideas.
Balbirnie and Lorcan Tucker (34) shared in an 82-run stand, dishing out particular punishment to Chris Woakes who went for 41 off three overs.
Ireland raced to 92-1 off 10 overs before a mid-order collapse led to them being all out with four balls remaining.
Morning drizzle cleared for the toss at an eerily quiet Melbourne Cricket Ground after an electric atmosphere when 90,000 packed the venue on Sunday evening for India’s incredible last-ball win over Pakistan.
England skipper Jos Buttler sent Ireland in but after a brief delay they only managed nine balls before rain forced them from the field.
They returned with no overs lost and Wood accounted for dangerous opener Paul Stirling, caught for 14 by Sam Curran at the ropes after he narrowly avoided a similar fate two balls earlier.
Wood was bowling at an explosive 154kph (96mph), the fastest of the tournament so far.
He caught Balbirnie on the finger, with treatment needed, but the Irish captain soldiered on, with both he Tucker regularly finding the boundary.
Their partnership ended when Tucker was run out for 34, with bowler Adil Rashid getting a finger to a Balbirnie drive, which cannoned into the non-strikers’ stumps with the batsman out of his crease.
Harry Tector was caught behind by Buttler off Wood two balls later to leave Ireland at 103-3, but Balbirnie stayed cool, reaching his eighth T20 half-century before holing out to Alex Hales off Livingstone.
A yorker from Livingstone removed George Dockrell the next delivery before Wood grabbed his third with Curtis Campher (17) the victim.
Livingstone matched Wood’s three-wicket haul when Mark Adair was caught in the deep and Ireland limped to the finish.