The England cricket team produced a clinical performance to beat Ireland by six wickets as ODI cricket made a return following the global pandemic-enforced lockdowns around the world. England will be hoping to wrap up the three-match series in the second ODI with another victory. Ireland, of course, will be eager to stand up and be counted after a heavy defeat in the first ODI.

David Willey, who was a part of our players to watch for in the first ODI, won the Man of the Match in the series opener after taking a career-best five-for-30 and here, we have a look at four potential difference-makers in the second ODI.

Sam Billings

Although not part of the playing XI initially, it was Sam Billings that eventually guided the hosts to victory in the first ODI. A late replacement for the injured Joe Denly, Billings smashed an unbeaten 54-ball 67 at a strike-rate of 124.07 and hit 11 fours along the way. Billings played with fluency from the start of his innings and will be in a confident frame of mind heading into the second ODI.

He will be keen to kick on after a successful return to the English setup with his career-best knock against Ireland. Billings’ aggressive approach in the middle will need to be neutralised if Ireland are harbouring any hopes of a positive result in the second ODI.

Adil Rashid

Adil Rashid looked like he was enjoying himself against Ireland’s batsmen, who found it difficult to read the English spinner’s legbreaks. Rashid was posing all sorts of problems for the Irish batting line-up and bowled with rhythm. His googly, in particular, was proving to be unreadable for Ireland’s batsmen.

Rashid finished with figures of one-for-26 at an economy of 2.60 and kept a tight leash as well as constant pressure on the opposition batsmen. Only Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan has taken more wickets (128) than the English spinner (125) since the start of 2016 and he will be hoping to make life difficult again in the second ODI for Ireland.

Curtis Campher

Curtis Campher was one of the few bright sparks in an otherwise below-par display by the Irish. The South African-born Ireland all-rounder demonstrated his potential on his debut with an unbeaten 59 that showcased his steel and grit as his teammates mostly collapsed around him. By doing so, he became the first player since Eoin Morgan to score a half-century on debut for Ireland.

The last five Irish wickets helped add 144 runs thanks to Campher’s intelligent batting with the lower order. Without Campher’s contribution, Ireland’s total could well have been in double figures and he will be under the spotlight once again in the second ODI.

Andy McBrine

Along with Campher, Andy McBrine also battled it out and put up a fight against England’s bowlers. He supported Campher by scoring 40 from 48 balls in an innings that saw him hit three fours and a six. McBrine scored at a brisk pace and helped stitch together the highest partnership in the Irish innings (66) with Campher.

He also claimed a wicket with his right-arm off-break and showed that he can have an impact with the bat as well as the ball during the remainder of the series.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Mike Hewitt

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