(BBC) – England were given a scare in their first match since winning the Ashes, beating Ireland by two runs in a rain-hit one-day international at Stormont.
Only four men from the team that won at The Oval against the Aussies featured in Belfast.
Joe Denly, making his one-day debut with Jonathan Trott and Adil Rashid, top-scored with 67 and Luke Wright hit two sixes, but England made only 203-9.
Requiring 116 from 20 overs, Ireland were well set but lost four wickets in four overs, Owais Shah taking 3-16.
After Tim Bresnan picked up two wickets in his opening two overs, teenager Paul Stirling soon accelerated Ireland’s scoring with two fours in Adil Rashid’s first over and a six over square-leg off acting England skipper Paul Collingwood.
He chipped a simple return catch to Rashid in the 10th over with 60 needed, but even after his departure the Irish were in prime position with 42 needed from 54 balls and six wickets in hand.
Shah was the unlikely bowling hero for England, with two wickets in the 18th over.
The home side still scented a dramatic victory, however, and needed 17 from the final over, bowled by Shah.
Trent Johnston, in his 100th match for Ireland, hit two fours but his side fell agonisingly short.
Earlier, England had made a shaky start after choosing to bat in testing overcast conditions.
Johnston removed Ravi Bopara, who was caught at slip for a duck in the third over, then added the scalp of Oval centurion Trott, also for a duck.
Matt Prior looked in good touch and hit successive fours off Kevin O’Brien, sharing 53 with Denly before he was caught hooking on the long-leg boundary.
After Collingwood top-edged a pull straight up in the air and was caught at the wicket, Shah skipped down the track to launch the first six but perished shortly afterwards when attempting another big shot and was caught at point.
Denly, after narrowly evading the chasing fielders in the deep with a mistimed drive when on five, calmly compiled an assured fifty before he was lbw missing a pull shot.
Wright launched Johnston over long-off for six, then pulled a four and a six in the next over from spinner Kyle McCallan.
He fell to a brilliant diving catch by John Mooney off the final ball of the 45th over, but Bresnan, batting at a lowly number 10, hit two fours to at least take England past the 200 mark.
England locked horns with Australia again yesterday in the first of two Twenty20 internationals.