Superb centuries from Paul Stirling and Harry Tector went in vain as they faced a heartbreaking one-run defeat against New Zealand in the third and final ODI of the three-match series at Dublin on Friday.
With this victory, New Zealand completed a clean sweep over Ireland by 3-0, despite some amazing cricket played by the hosts. The series was a closely-contested one and though the Irish lost it, they can walk away with a lot of positives.
New Zealand posted a massive 360/6 on the board, largely powered by century from Martin Guptill (115) and Henry Nicholls (79). Josh Little was the pick of the Irish bowlers with 2/84.
In the second innings, Ireland fell one run short in the chase despite tons from Paul Stirling (120) and Harry Tector (108). Medium-pacer Matt Henry (4/68) did most of the damage with the ball.
Choosing to bat first after winning the toss, the Blackcaps were off a solid start, putting on 78-runs for the first wicket. Openers Guptill and Finn Allen laid down the foundation for a solid score with the stand, which ended with Allen being dismissed for 33 by Little. Will Young fell cheaply for three after being run out, leaving NZ at 86/2.
Guptill and skipper Tom Latham then went on to have a 60-run partnership that stabilised the innings. Latham was dismissed for 30 by pacer Curtis Campher, caught by Tector at backward point.
Nicholls and Guptill then went on to have a 96-run stand, with the latter bringing up his 18th ODI ton. He was dismissed leg-before-wicket by Gareth Delany for 115.
A 54-run stand between Nicholls (79), who brought up his fifty and Glenn Phillips (47) and a 45-run stand between Phillips and Michael Bracewell (21*) took NZ to 360/6 at end of their innings.
Little was the pick of the bowlers with 2/84. Craig Young, Campher and Delany took one wicket each.
Chasing 361, the Irish were off a horrific start, losing captain Andy Balbirnie for nought after he was trapped lbw by Henry. Stirling and Andy McBrine brought a bit of stability with a 55-run stand, which ended with Henry dismissing McBrine for 26.
Stirling and Harry Tector then smashed Kiwi bowlers all over the park, in a 179-run partnership. Stirling, the Irish great brought up his 13th ODI ton. He was dismissed by Henry in the 35th over for 120 off 103 balls.
Tector carried on while wickets fell from the other end, falling at 310 runs as the sixth wicket for 108 off 106 balls, his second ODI ton. His side needed 51 runs with more than six overs to go.
George Dockrell (22) and Graham Hume (7*) took the side really close to a memorable win. After the dismissal of Dockrell in 48.3 over, the equation was down to 13 runs in 9 balls.
Hume and other batters could not take the team across the finishing line. 10 runs were needed in the final over and the Irish could only score eight, finishing at 359/9 with Hume (7*) and Little (1*).
Henry did the damage by picking up wickets at the right time, finishing with 4/68. Mitchell Santner’s spin also hurt the hosts as he finished with 3/71. Blair Tickner got one scalp as well.
(Inputs from ANI)