Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan both hit centuries to steer an inexperienced England team to a six-wicket win over Ireland in a one-day international yesterday.
England finished on 274-4 having been set a target of 269, with captain William Porterfield scoring 112 for Ireland.
After some worrying moments for England as the top of their order failed to fire, Bopara and Morgan put on an unbeaten 226-run partnership. Scoring at a rate of eight an over, the two steadied the English reply.
Former Ireland U19 skipper Morgan’s 124 off 106 balls included four huge sixes, while Bopara smashed five maximums in his 101 off 75 balls. Tim Murtagh was the only Irish bowler to find success, taking 3-33.
The England team was unrecognisable from the one which secured an Ashes series win against Australia this summer with Irishman Morgan as captain and his fellow countryman Boyd Rankin claiming 4-46 on his international ODI debut and outshining the more experienced Steven Finn, who managed only 0-44.
The English innings started shakily and they were 25-3 after the ninth over. When Taylor’s wickets were rattled by Murtagh, England were 48-4 and behind the required run rate but Bopara and Morgan then exposed the Irish bowling.
England, who won the toss and chose to field, made early inroads thanks to Rankin but couldn’t prise out the opener Porterfield until the 46th over. By then, he’d hit 15 of the 142 balls he faced to the boundary, including one six.
The rest of the Irish batting line-up failed to capitalise, with the extras tally of 32 the second-highest total on the scorecard.