The second match of this ODI series, which England have won with a game to spare, was not dissimilar to the first.
Ireland batted first, by choice this time, and staggered to a total that England had a scare chasing, yet still got home with more than 100 balls to spare. And again, Curtis Campher showed that he is a proper prospect, keeping Ireland in the game with bat and ball.
Rashid took three for 34 from his 10 overs to put the skids on Ireland, then Bairstow put the early loss of his partner in crime Jason Roy behind him to launch into an extraordinary attack that saw him equal the England record for fastest ODI fifty (21 balls) and was in the mix for their fastest ODI century (46 balls) when he edged behind for 82 off 41 in the 16th over of the chase.
That’s not to say that Willey and Billings did not have an impact. They came together with England wobbling on 137 for six, having lost three wickets in 12 balls, and put on 79 to guide them to victory by six wickets.
And Willey again provided early breakthroughs, dismissing the openers Gareth Delany and Paul Stirling in his third and fourth overs to leave Ireland 15 for two. The third wicket fell soon after to, of all bowlers, James Vince. His part-time seamers were used by Eoin Morgan to burgle through a few quiet overs but, in his second, Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie had a fiddle at a short, wide one and was caught behind.
Then it was over to Rashid, who had Ireland in an almighty tangle. On Friday he bowled beautifully, with three maidens in 10 overs that brought figures of one for 26.
This time it the wickets column also reflected his dominance. In his first over, he jagged a googly through Kevin O’Brien’s defences, and the Irish batsmen could not get him away as he teased them with radical changes of pace, often without protection on the boundary. His rewards were the wickets of Harry Tector, caught at mid-on, and Lorcan Tucker, who got in a mess trying to sweep. His third wicket saw him become the first England spinner to take 150 in ODIs.
Only when he came off were Ireland able to get comfortable. Campher, in early again at No7, put on a sprightly 60 with Simi Singh, then 56 with Andy McBrine. Saqib Mahmood dismissed both men, but not before Campher had produced some beautifully calculated batting to clear the fielders brought into the ring, such as when he ramped Reece Topley to reach his half-century.
Topley bowled nicely, and should not have to had to wait until the final ball of the innings to take his first international wicket in 1,597 days. McBrine was the victim, caught behind by a swift delivery. Ireland had 212, which was a few more than England, who had become a bit scrappy, should have allowed.
With the exception of Bairstow, England’s top order batting was tame, and there were three ducks in the top seven. Jason Roy drove the innings’ third ball to cover, then Vince (bowled) and Tom Banton (lbw) were dismissed in a fiery spell from Campher.
Bairstow went on his merry way, whacking Josh Little through the offside and Craig Young over the legside. McBrine’s off-spin was launched down the ground, repeatedly.
Little returned for a second spell and had Bairstow caught behind. When the left-armer gave the batsman a send-off, it looked a little precipitous. But when he dismissed Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali, England’s captain and vice-captain, for ducks in his next over, he was suddenly the player who had turned the game on its head.
Fortunately for England, Billings was already into his stride. He avoided risks, and contributed just 17 to the first 50 runs they shared. It might not have been as eye-catching, but this innings was every bit as important as his 67 not out in the opener. Then, he came in with England needing 114 to win. This time its was 115.
It was left to Willey to take on the big shots, like the pulled four he crushed off Campher to complete the job.