Ireland suffered a 31-run defeat in the first T20I match against New Zealand at Civil Service Cricket Club, Belfast on Monday. Chasing a target of 174 runs, they could manage only 142 in 18. overs. The second match will be played at the same venue on Wednesday (July 20).
Bowling first, the Andrew Balbirnie-led Ireland restricted New Zealand to 173/8 with Joshua Little claiming a four-wicket (4/35) haul. Mark Adair took two, while George Dockrell and Curtis Campher got one wicket each.
New Zealand started on a strong note with veteran Martin Guptill taking charge. But they lost quick wickets in the middle. Then Glenn Phillips (69 off 52), James Neesham (29 off 16) and Michael Bracewell (21 off 13) scored crucial runs.
Paul Stirling (13 off 16) and captain Andrew Balbirnie (12 off 7) got off to a confident start, but Ireland failed to keep momentum with not a single batter reaching 30. Curtis Campher was the top scorer, hitting 29 off 21.
Ireland: Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie (c), Gareth Delany, Harry Tector, Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Lorcan Tucker (wk), Mark Adair, Barry McCarthy, Craig Young, Joshua Little.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Finn Allen, Dane Cleaver (wk), Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, James Neesham, Michael Bracewell, Mitchell Santner (c), Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Jacob Duffy.
This was the second meeting between Ireland and New Zealand in the shortest format of the game. At ICC T20 World Cup 2009, New Zealand had defeated Ireland by 83 runs at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.
In the preceding ODI series, Ireland had come close to beating New Zealand for the first time, in any format, multiple times during in Dublin.
In the first ODI on July 10, Michael Bracewell had helped the Kiwis chase down a 301-run target and seal a one-wicket win. Bracewell had hit an unbeaten 82-ball 127, including three fours and two sixes in the final over.
The 31-year-old again played a match-winning knock, an unbeaten 42 off 42 while chasing a tricky target of 217 in the second match. Kiwis had won the second ODI by three wickets.
Then New Zealand had escaped with a one-run win in the third ODI for a 3-0 series sweep.