New Zealand vs Ireland: Ireland was given a difficult score of 361, and Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls came agonizingly close.
In a 719-run slugfest on a real Malahide track, barnstorming centuries from Paul Stirling and Harry Tector gave New Zealand a serious fright, but they managed to hold on and defend 360. New Zealand once again shattered the hearts of the Irish when Ireland needed 10 runs off the final over and Blair Tickner, their most expensive bowler on tour and least experienced seamer, sealed a one-run triumph.
Graham Hume, making his debut, was unable to catch Tickner’s first two deliveries, which resulted in just one run being scored. Next, one of New Zealand’s top fielders, Glenn Phillips, dropped Craig Young’s ball at the midwicket boundary and ultimately managed to deflect it past the rope for four. Even if it was a remote possibility, Phillips’ third error of the day made New Zealand maybe feel as if they were losing the game as well.
While scrambling for a second run on the following delivery, Young panicked under pressure and ran himself out, leaving Ireland needing four runs off the final two balls with No. 11 Josh Little on strike. As New Zealand squeaked to a 3-0 whitewash and retained their spotless record in the World Cup Super League, he could only manage a single off the penultimate ball and Hume a bye off the final one.
Ireland was at one point on target to chase down 361 and complete the joint third-highest successful chase in men’s ODIs. Stirling and Tector put together a 179-run partnership, which is the third-highest for Ireland’s third wicket and the sixth-highest overall. Stirling’s departure in the 35th over, however, nearly turned the game again.
When Martin Guptill, who had already destroyed New Zealand’s innings with a hundred of his own, completed a sensational one-handed grab at extra cover to dismiss Gareth Delany for 22 off 16 balls.
After receiving a light tap from Stirling and Tector, Mitchell Santner dashed the old ball into the pitch. He then used his subtle variations to fool the Ireland hitters. It was his responsibility to remove Delany, Tector, and Lorcan Tuckner from the contest. In the final over, Tickner struck a strong length to draw a return catch from Curtis Campher. He then skillfully kept the ball away from the swinging arcs of Ireland’s lower order.
Ireland ran New Zealand close in the first two ODIs and India close in the two-match T20I series during the current home summer, but they were unable to win any of those matches. For Ireland, Friday turned out to be the same old scenario.
But Stirling and Tector took over the chase after Matt Henry hit Ireland twice in the first powerplay to put them at 62 for 2 in the tenth over. At this point, Stirling was already on track to get 30 out of 33 balls. The first of his five sixes came two overs later when he ran out of the crease and hit Michael Bracewell over the long-on boundary to speed things up. Stirling kept putting every bowler and every part of the field to the test in front of an excited crowd at The Village.
Lockie Ferguson was laced between the covers, Santner was clubbed across the line and against the planned turn-over wide long-on, Bracewell was reverse-swept past the short third man, and Tickner was muscled over square leg, and Phillips was flat-batted over cover-point. Stirling’s carved four off Bracewell enabled him to reach his 13th ODI century and his 150-run partnership with Tector.
On his ODI debut in 2008, Stirling saw Brendon McCullum and James Marshall thrash Ireland while New Zealand amassed a total of 402 in Aberdeen. Thirteen years later, Stirling and Tector joined forces to terrorize New Zealand in a comparable manner.
Similar to Stirling, Tector was equally at home on either side of the wicket and frequently produced his own lengths by sneaking outside or beyond his crease.
New Zealand could have dismissed Ferguson when his slower yorker kissed the outside of his off stump on 44, but the bails were still in place. Tector persevered to score his second century in as many games, but the tail had too much to do after his unfortunate reverse-sweep off Santner.
The centerpiece of New Zealand’s innings, which also included cameos from Finn Allen (33), Tom Latham (30), Phillips (47), and Bracewell (21*), was a brisk century from Guptill and an even brisker 79 from Henry Nicholls.
As with most of his huge innings, Guptill’s driving down the ground and between the covers was exceptional. After spinners Andy McBrine and Delany gained some control over the old ball, he slowed down after reaching his fifty from 43 balls. In the nineties, he slowed down even further, taking 18 balls to go from 90 to triple figures.
With a six off a free-hit, Guptill hit his 18th ODI century. Only his old friend Ross Taylor has played in more ODIs and scored more centuries for New Zealand. After Guptill was dismissed for 115 runs off 126 balls, Nicholls took charge and regained his form.
Nicholls had only achieved 104 runs in eight innings across formats at an average of 13.00 since his 57 against the Netherlands at home in March. He had to battle a case of Covid-19 and a leg strain along the way. When he returned to the ODI system, he also had to deal with moving down to the middle order to make room for Allen at the top.
On a regular basis, Nicholls moved across to off to gain access to the leg side, where he scored 54 of his 79 runs. Ireland made an attempt to counteract McBrine’s off-spin against the left-hander, but it was unsuccessful as Nicholls took 24 off of him in just 16 balls. Nicholls reached fifty in 38 balls and appeared to be headed for more, but Young ended his innings with an off-cutter.
Then, Phillips and Bracewell scored 45 runs together off only 23 balls to help New Zealand reach 360. It ultimately turned out to be just enough.
Disclaimer: The insights expressed in this article are those of the author. This article was not written or edited by Empireweekly.com; it was published on July 16, 2022.