Australia rode on captain Aaron Finch’s 63 (44b, 5×4, 3×6) to beat Ireland by 42 runs in Brisbane on Monday to boost its hopes of reaching the semifinals of the T20 World Cup.
High on confidence after defeating England in Melbourne last week, Ireland put faith in its bowling line-up and put Australia in to bat after winning the toss at Gabba.
Things started fairly well for the Men in Green as Barry McCarthy struck with the first ball of the 3rd over, tempting David Warner to attempt a pull and offer a catch to Mark Adair to the short fine leg fielder.
However, it was Finch, who set the tone of the game.
In his last five T20I innings, the Aussie captain had scored only 69 runs which drew criticism. He started cautiously, relying mostly on singles. His first boundary came on the penultimate ball of the fourth over when he made the most of Joshua Little’s back of length delivery. Finch hit Adair for a four and a six in the following over, to slowly rebuild the innings with Mitchell Marsh.
With the team’s total at just 38 runs after the PowerPlay, Marsh accelerated with two sixes in seventh over off Fionn Hand. But even after the end of a 52-run stand between Marsh and Finch, and Glenn Maxwell’s early dismissal, the Australian captain held fort.
Marcus Stoinis provided support to Finch, and the duo ensured there were no further slip-ups. After scoring at run-a-ball till the 13th over, Stoinis slammed a six and a four as Australia picked up 16 runs from Gareth Delany’s over.
Australia vs Ireland: Highlights and Full Scorecard
Ireland lost the plot further in the 15th over. Even though McCarthy attempted a stunning boundary catch, Adair conceded five wides and two fours, before Finch hit a six off the last ball to reach 50 runs.
The Aussie opener finally holed out to Adair, stationed at long-on, off a McCarthy full toss when Australia was at 153 for four after 17 overs. Stoinis’ innings, too, ended soon, but Matthew Wade and Tim David picked up 17 runs from the final over to take the team’s total to 179 for five.
Pat Cummins and Glenn Maxwell made early inroads for Australia. Facing Cummins, a shuffle from Balbirnie saw him lose his timber, while Maxwell dented Ireland by picking two wickets. Stirling hit one straight to Cummins, and Harry Tector pulled one straight to Steve Smith after hitting a boundary on the previous delivery.
Mitchell Starc joined the party as he bowled Curtis Campher through the gate and then rattled George Dockrell’s stumps to leave Ireland reeling at 25 for five.
Lorcan Tucker remained unbeaten on 71 but could only take his team to 137 runs.
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At a time when Aussies looked set for an easy win, Lorcan Tucker (71 n.o, 48b, 9×4, 1×6) stepped and braved the odds to guide the team to 137.
Tucker started by hitting Starc for back-to-back fours in the 12th over. Even as wickets tumbled at the other end, he smashed Josh Hazlewood over the long-on boundary to bring his half-century, and followed it up with a four in the next delivery.
As Starc came in for the 17th over, Tucker welcomed him with three boundaries and a couple of twos to pick 18 runs off the over.
Ireland needed 44 from 18 deliveries, but the Irish hopes were dashed as the team lost two quick wickets in McCarthy and Little to help Australia keep its campaign hopes alive.
The defending champion is now second in the table with five points, but its Net Run Rate is still in the negative (-0.30).
Ahead of the remaining group league games, fitness is a concern for Australia. Finch did not field for more than half the innings due to a hamstring injury, and a similar problem kept Tim out of the field, too. Stoinis, too, kept going in and out while fielding.