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England stave off Ireland scare to claim series win courtesy Bairstow blitz
Match Report

England stave off Ireland scare to claim series win courtesy Bairstow blitz

Jonny Bairstow equalled the England record for the fastest one-day international fifty as the world champions beat Ireland by four wickets in a series-clinching victory at Southampton on Saturday.

England were cruising to a target of 213 while opener Bairstow, whose 21-ball half-century equalled skipper Eoin Morgan's mark against Australia at Nottingham two years ago, was at the crease.

The wicket-keeper's exit for 82, however, sparked a mini-collapse that saw three wickets lost for six runs.

Both former Ireland batsman Morgan and Moeen Ali fell for ducks as Josh Little -- only playing because of Barry McCarthy's knee injury -- followed his dismissal of Bairstow by striking twice in four balls to leave England wobbling at 137-6.

But Sam Billings, who saw England home to a six-wicket win in Thursday's series opener, made 46 not out and David Willey, already a thorn in Ireland's side with the ball, 47 not out.

The pair shared an unbroken stand as England, who won with more than 17 overs remaining, again made Ireland pay for a low total batting first.

The victory left England 2-0 up in a three-match series that concludes at the Ageas Bowl, the venue for all three matches, on Tuesday.

Earlier leg-spinner Adil Rashid, a Yorkshire team-mate of Bairstow and Willey, took a fine 3-34 from 10 overs as Ireland were held to 212-9.

Curtis Campher again rescued Ireland from a top-order collapse, with his 68 following the South Africa-born all-rounder's 59 not out on debut on Thursday.

Left-arm paceman Willey, who took an ODI-best 5-30 last time out, dismissed Gareth Delany and Paul Stirling after Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie, somewhat surprisingly, decided to bat first.

Morgan then saw his decision to bring on Hampshire captain James Vince, primarily a batsman, rewarded when the medium-pacer claimed a first international wicket as Balbirnie toe-ended a short ball to Bairstow.

Kevin O'Brien, whose 50-ball hundred set up Ireland's dramatic 2011 World Cup-win over England in Bangalore, then fell for just three when bowled by Rashid's textbook googly.

Campher came into bat with Ireland again deep in trouble at 78-5.

But he shared partnerships of 60 and 56 with Simi Singh and Andy McBrine respectively.

Campher, after he passed fifty, hooked and drove Willey for two fine fours before he sliced Saqib Mahmood to Rashid at third man.

This series, being played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus, also launches the new World Cup Super League, which will determine qualification for the 2023 50-over showpiece in India.