Ireland and rain had a major impact on the T20 World Cup Wednesday as England suffered a shock defeat and New Zealand were denied the chance to take advantage when their match with Afghanistan was washed out.
Captain Andy Balbirnie led the way for Ireland with 62 from 47 balls at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to give England a 158-run target.
But England’s much-vaunted batting line-up struggled to get going in the face of some disciplined Ireland swing bowling and were reduced to 29-3 off the first five overs.
A late Moeen Ali boundary flurry (24 off 12 balls) took England to 105-5 off 14.3 overs when the rain ended play.
England were five runs behind on the DLS scoring method, handing Ireland a famous victory.
“It’s amazing, kind of emotional,” said man-of-the-match Balbirnie.
“Our message was to just create chances and we know how this England team like to play, if we take every chance then we would be in with a shot.
“This will do a lot to grow the game back home.”
The rain stayed around for the rest of the night and, after several aborted attempts to start the second match of the MCG double-header, New Zealand and Afghanistan had to make do with a point each without a ball being bowled.
It leaves New Zealand top of a wide open Group 1 with three points after two rounds of matches.
Sri Lanka, England, Ireland and Australia are locked together on two points with Afghanistan bottom on one.
It was Ireland’s second massive upset of the tournament after they beat the West Indies in the first round to send the two-time champions home.
England, who enjoyed an opening five-wicket win over Afghanistan, are among the title favourites and were heavily-fancied to beat the Irish.
Captain Jos Buttler had no excuses and said England needed to feel the pain of defeat after their dismal performance.
He demanded a reaction for their next clash — a blockbuster against hosts and defending champions Australia in Melbourne on Friday.
‘Let it hurt’: Buttler
“I think we should let it hurt, to be honest,” said Buttler, who is in charge of England for the first time at a major tournament following the retirement of Eoin Morgan this year.
“Days like today are really, really disappointing and you’ve got to feel that.
“We have got to reflect and we have to do it quickly with another game very soon, but today should hurt,” said Buttler who was out for a duck off the second ball of England’s innings.
“I expect a reaction from the team.”
New Zealand won their tournament opener against Australia last week and next face Sri Lanka in Sydney on Saturday.
Black Caps coach Gary Stead said Ireland’s win showed there was no room for complacency.
“They are making a habit when you look at world tournaments. It’s not the first win they have had against a major nation,” he said.
Ireland also hammered the West Indies by nine wickets in the first round last week to knock out the two-time former champions and famously beat England in the 2011 50-over World Cup when they chased down a mammoth 328 to win.
“They are a dangerous team,” said Stead, whose team face the Irish in their final Group 1 game on November 4. “It’s great for world cricket.”
‘It’s all to play for’
Ireland face Afghanistan next on Friday at the MCG in the first match of another double-header before the Ashes foes go head-to-head later in the evening.
“It’s all to play for,” said Afghanistan coach and former England batsman Jonathan Trott.
Trott denied that his side had “dodged a bullet” by avoiding an in-form New Zealand side, who romped past Australia by 89 runs in their opening match.
“It would have been nice to play New Zealand and the guys to get the experience of playing at the MCG, and hopefully getting a win,” said Trott.
“It would have been nice to have got those points, like Ireland. To be saying it’s a bullet dodged is a bit of disservice to the guys in my changing room.”