As we approach the final ODI between England and Ireland, we look at some key players worth keeping an eye on in the series finale.
A scintillating performance in the second ODI against Ireland on Saturday saw Eoin Morgan’s England clinching the three-match series, this time defeating their opponents by four wickets. So as the final ODI looms, Ireland would undoubtedly want to end their tour on a high when they square off against their opponents on Tuesday at the Ageas Bowl.
For what it’s worth, the visitors have had their moments of brilliance. If not for the collective effort, there have been a few impressive performances on an individual front.
Having said that, we look at two players from each team who will be in the spotlight in the final ODI of the series.
After a rather quiet outing in the first ODI, opener Jonny Bairstow showcased what he does best by smashing a 21-ball half-century to equal Morgan's mark against Australia at Nottingham two years ago. The right-handed batsman went on to hit 82 off just 41 deliveries that included 14 boundaries and two maximums. Till the time he was on the crease on Saturday, England looked in decent shape. However, his exit sparked a mini-collapse that saw three wickets lost for six runs.
Meanwhile, his blitz also saw him crossing the 3000-run mark in ODI cricket, becoming the joint-fastest England batsman alongside Joe Root. Bairstow will be keen on capitalising on the opportunity in the final ODI after facing the axe from the Test squad.
All-rounder David Willey has turned out to be an absolute thorn in Ireland’s pursuit of finding anything positive in the series. The 30-year-old started off with a maiden five-wicket haul in the first ODI and followed it up by picking two wickets and scoring an unbeaten 47 off 46 balls in the second.
Returning to England’s ODI setup after a long time, Willey has certainly made a stern impact in the ongoing series. His case has been further helped by the fact that Ireland are relatively inexperienced in facing left-arm seam bowling.
Only one player has scored more runs than Curtis Campher in the debut ODI for Ireland, and that player now captains England’s ODI side. Middle-order batsman Curtis Campher has been an absolute revelation for Ireland, notching two half-centuries in as many ODIs for his team.
In a rather underwhelming outing for Ireland, Campher has scored 127 runs across both ODIs - highest in the series so far. The simple fact that he has come out to bat in wrenching moments in both ODIs (28/5 and 78/5) further outlines his importance in the team. Furthermore, he has been equally brilliant with the ball, having struck twice on Saturday, while picking one in the opening ODI.
It is safe to say that he will be keen on adding similar numbers on Tuesday.
With Barry McCarthy suffering a knee injury just ahead of the second ODI, Ireland turned to Joshua Little, a 20-year-old left-arm bowler who made his ODI debut against England at Dublin in May 2019. Little hammered his first blow by plucking Jonny Bairstow from the crease and followed it up by sending the likes of Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali back to the pavilion on ducks.
He revived Ireland’s pursuit out of nowhere, and regardless of the result, the 20-year-old remained one of the positives from the game.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Mike Hewitt
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