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Lorcan Tucker and Curtis Campher lead Ireland to series-levelling win

Lorcan Tucker, Curtis Campher lead Ireland to series-levelling win
Lorcan Tucker, Curtis Campher lead Ireland to series-levelling win
©USA/Cricket Ireland
 

A fluent 84 from Lorcan Tucker and an inspired 4-25 from Curtis Campher have led Ireland to victory in the second T20I of the Dafabet USA v Ireland Men’s International Series.

USA Men v Ireland Men, 2nd T20I, Broward County Stadium, Florida, 23 December 2021
 
  Ireland 150 (18.5 overs: L Tucker 84; S Netravalkar 3-33)
  USA 141-7 (20 overs: S Modani 27; C Campher 4-25) 
 
Ireland Men won by 9 runs

SCORECARD

Tucker posted his second half-century of the series in an innings of eye-catching quality – he struck nine fours and three sixes in a 56-ball stay that held together the Irish innings and helped post a defendable target. This was Tucker’s highest international score, passing his 83 against Afghanistan in an ODI in January.

Campher, meanwhile, bowled an aggressive spell, effecting a run out from his own bowling to claim the first wicket before capturing four wickets – three of the wickets coming from his last over, the 18th over of the innings.

After losing the toss and being sent in to bat under the lights, Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie and opening partner Paul Stirling looked to try and set a more positive tone for the Irish batting unit, with Stirling striking the first ball to the boundary. However, just five balls later Ireland’s talisman was adjudged LBW, out for 5.

Andrew Balbirnie was dismissed with the final ball of the second over by Saurabh Netravalkar, and Campher joined Tucker to steady the ship. The pair brought up the Irish 50 in the sixth over when Tucker smacked Netravalkar for four to square leg before Campher was dismissed by Yasir Mohammad to leave Ireland at 59-3.

As wickets fell around him, Tucker continued to score freely and brought Ireland to 100-6 with a single off the first ball of the 14th over. Ireland was scoring at a good rate but losing wickets quickly also with Adair, Singh and Barry McCarthy all falling, before Tucker hit the final ball of the 18th over for six to bring the score to 145-9,

A flowing Tucker reverse sweep off Netravalkar for four in the 19th over ensured Ireland registered 150, but he was out to the same shot two balls later, clean bowled and leaving the Irish innings at what looked to be 10-15 runs below par on a traditionally high-scoring ground.

Ryan Scott was promoted to open the US innings and immediately set to work striking two boundaries in the first Mark Adair over. However, a brilliant piece of fielding off his own bowling saw Campher run Scott out for 11 and the Irish side visibly seemed to lift in response.

Ritwik Behera was caught by Shane Getkate at fine leg off Adair for 16, and captain Monank Patel – after a quick flourish – fell for 26 to give Ben White his first wicket, Adair with the outfield catch.

Gajanand Singh, who hit a Player of the Match-winning 64 yesterday, again looked confident in compiling 23 from 20 balls, but fell leg before to Campher just when he was looking set to launch another late innings attack.

With the run rate required climbing steadily towards two runs-a-ball, Adair delivered an excellent display of death overs bowling, taking the pace off the ball and conceding just four runs from the 16th over.

The 18th over by Campher was a true rollercoaster – a no-ball six, a second six, and then three wickets in five balls separated by a wide saw USA needing 28 from the last two overs. Barry McCarthy and Adair held their nerve to bowl out the final 12 balls, and Ireland were victorious by 9 runs. The series finished level at 1-1.

Tucker, named Player of the Match and Player of the Series for his 141 runs across the two matches, said:

“It was great to get an opportunity to bat that high in the order – I haven’t batted at 3 in T20s for Ireland before. Yesterday was the first game I had played in a while and I felt a bit scratchy, but I felt more comfortable, and played more fluently today.

“When it’s only 150 on the board and a ground with small enough boundaries, you want to take your chances and I think we did that really well in the field. We took wickets at key moments and closed the game out really well.”

Andrew Balbirnie said:

“The fighting spirit we wanted was there today – it still wasn’t a great performance but we got over the line and we showed that character that we want to instill into the group.

“We have a lot of T20 cricket coming up, and a World Cup qualifier soon where we’ll need to take a look at ourselves and see where we can improve, but Lorcan was outstanding – he didn’t think he’d be batting three at the start of the series but he’s someone we think is an exciting cricketer and I thought that was really impressive innings today.

“We knew the USA would be a good team, it’s been a hard fought series – we haven’t played our best today, but we still found a way, and that’s a good sign.”