New Zealand had another good day in the Irelands as they had a convincing 88-run victory over the hosts in the second Twenty20 international in Belfast. With one game remaining, the win gave New Zealand an unbeatable 2-0 lead and sealed the three-game series for them.
Dane Cleaver‘s steady yet efficient 55-ball 78* and a commanding performance from New Zealand’s bowlers gave the visitors an edge in the game. As New Zealand reached 179 for 4 in 20 overs, Ireland skipper Andy Balbirnie’s choice to bowl first for the second straight game backfired. Cleaver, who was playing in just his second T20I, scored five fours and four sixes while continuing to bat until the very end. He entered the batting order at No. 3 in the fifth over.
The rest was then handled by New Zealand’s diverse bowling squad, in part thanks to some unneeded aggressive shots or hazardous runs from the Ireland hitters. Ireland‘s total could have been much lower than their final score of 91 if it weren’t for Mark Adair and Barry McCarthy’s 37-run stand for the eighth wicket.
With three wickets each, the spin twin Ish Sodhi and Michael Bracewell were New Zealand’s top bowlers. Even though Curtis Campher, Lorcan Tucker, and George Dockrell were all taken out by Sodhi in the middle overs, giving him a final score of 3 for 21, Bracewell had the biggest grin by the time the game was over. The offspinner took three wickets in three deliveries in his maiden T20I over, making him just the third New Zealand bowler after Tim Southee and Jacob Oram to take three wickets in a T20I.
The winning New Zealand captain Mitchell Santner during the post-match presentation said., “The wicket looked a little better in the first innings but it was a bit up and down. The way Dane paced those innings was good and then our bowlers did well. There’s not a lot that [Bracewell] can’t do at the moment so I thought I’d get him in there. We’re pretty happy with the win today.”
The losing captain, Andy Balbirnie talked about the loss as he said, “Sometimes you can have days like that with the bat. When you’re 50-odd for 7 chasing 170, you’re never really in the game. [The pitch] played similar throughout the whole game so we as batters have to take responsibility that this isn’t good enough in international cricket. We’ve got one more crack at them and we’ll see how we go.”
The team will now next meet on Friday, 22 July for the third and final T20I. The Newzealand has already sealed the 3-match series and is ahead 2-0