A spirited Ireland side made England to work hard for a 48-run win in both the teams’ first match of the Super Eights. At the Providence Stadium in Guyana, England stuttered with both the bat and the ball but eventually won the game with Ireland not able to sustain the pressure moments for longer periods of time. The stars of the English victory were Paul Collingwood with the bat and Freddie Flintoff with both the bat and the ball.
Michael Vaughan won the toss to bat first only to see his side slip down to an untidy 113 for 4. Vaughan failed once again, this time making just 6 while Bell (31) and Pietersen (48) failed to convert their starts into bigger ones. It was left for Paul Collingwood to pull England out of trouble. He did that with a smashing 90 from 82 balls with 8 fours and 3 sixes that earned him the Man of the Match. Andrew Flintoff was involved in an important 81-run stand with Collingwood with the former making 43 from 62 balls. England blasted 94 runs in the last 10 overs with Collingwood contributing 55 out of those on his own! Ireland’s problem was that they lost their best performing bowler Boyd Rankin because of cramps. Rankin had an impressive new ball spell of 2 for 28 in 7 overs which also included a maiden.
In their chase of 267, Ireland lost their most important player – Jeremy Bray off the first ball he had faced which was only the fifth ball of the innings. With the help of wicket keeper batsman, Niall O’Brien, Ireland made a fight out of the match but the asking rate was always shooting up beyond its reach. Niall O’Brien made 63 from 88 before being stumped out off the friendly off spin of Michael Vaughan in the 37th over. Skipper Trent Johnston with 27 from 21 (including two sixes) and Andrew White with 38 from 35 provided fireworks towards the end. But they were only enough to reduce the margin of defeat which is a decent one at 48 runs. Andrew Flintoff was good in his clean up job for which he had used his pace and reverse swing to good effect to take 4 for 43. Monty Panesar had an easy outing with 2 for 31 in 10 overs. Ireland would be proud of their efforts while England will have to raise their game few notches up if they have to compete against better sides.