Dubai: Paul Stirling, the toast of Ireland, said self-belief was the key behind their successfully chasing down a 300-plus total against world champions England to earn their first points in the ICC’s inugural Super League on Tuesday. The underdogs won the third and final One-day International to redeem some pride as England won the series 2-1.
“It was brilliant to get our first win in the competition, especially after a few tough performances in the last two games. We showed a lot of character to come back and are just delighted to get the win,” he said after the underdogs overhauled a steep target of 329 to win by seven wickets.
“We’ve chased over 300 a number of times, particularly in World Cups, so we knew we could do it. It (the big target) maybe just freed us up a little bit to go a bit harder up top and have a bit of fun.
“In the middle overs we were able to keep it ticking along, so it was just a pretty solid chase in the end.” Stirling put on an Irish record second wicket partnership of 214 with captain Andy Balbirnie, who contributed a fine 113.
It was Stirling’s ninth ODI hundred, but one of his best, though he was more relieved to have broken his side’s duck in the Super League.
“This one is up top there, definitely. To do it against England in England is a nice one to have under your belt, but it was a team performance.
“It is the win that counts and 10 points there on the board. They are the most important things.”
Sitrling earned lavish praise from England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan, the Ireland-born cricketer who has represented both countries.
Earlier, Morgan scored a century of his own as England set an imposing victory target of 329 at the Rose Bowl but he sat out the second innings because of a minor groin injury.
He watched on from the boundary as Stirling, who was dropped on 95 and 139, and Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie (113) carried on a heroic chase. “Paul Stirling had a day out and he’s the ability to do that,” Morgan told reporters.
“But we play against world class players all the time and you know when you do, you need to take those opportunities because they will hurt you.
“Ireland played really well and thoroughly deserved to win.”
Morgan briefly overlapped with Stirling in the Ireland set-up before switching allegiance but knows him better from their time as team mates at English county Middlesex.
“He’s as dangerous an opening batsman as there is around the world,” he said of the 29-year-old. “I know guys do not like bowling at him, he hits good balls for four or six and, on his day, he can take a game away from you.”