The first T20I in Belfast certainly was a good one for the neutrals.
Ireland won the toss and chose to bowl, with Dane Cleaver and Michael Bracewell on debut for the Black Caps.
It was a good start for the tourists, with the first ball going to the boundary for four from Martin Guptill. Some quality strokeplay from Guptill was able to get the New Zealanders off to a fast start though the opening partnership came to an end in third over when Finn Allen was caught by George Dockrell off the bowling of Joshua Little. Guptill was then caught by Curtis Campher as Mark Adair picked up his first wicket soon after.
Hard hitting batsman Glenn Phillips was the next man in the middle though again the partnership was broken early, with Cleaver knicking one behind for Josh Little’s second.
At the end of the powerplay, the Black Caps sat at 42/3 and were going to need to look to build some middle order partnerships. This wasn’t the case, as Daryl Mitchell departed for only five from 10 to leave the Blackcaps reeling on 54 for four after only nine overs.
The next partnership was crucial for the New Zealanders as two powerful batters were in the middle, looking to try and take control of the scoring rate. The power from Jimmy Neesham was shown as he was able to hit one six and three fours in his 16-ball 29.
Debutant Michael Bracewell joined Phillips and the aggression was once again shown as Bracewell was finding the boundary with ease, only to have his 12-ball knock of 21 ended by Joshua Little. New Zealand now 145/6 with two overs left.
Mitchell Santner came and went for two as he was caught by Gareth Delaney off the bowling of Little again. Sodhi went in the last over for one, being caught and bowled by Adair. Phillips however was able to take 19 runs from the final over to get the Black Caps up to 173/8 from their 20 overs
Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie were able to get Ireland off to a similar start as the New Zealanders had. This however did not carry on for much longer as Balbirnie departed for 12 being caught by Mitchell Santner off the bowling of Jacob Duffy.
Gareth Delany was only able to add five to the score before he was out, bowled by Lockie Ferguson. To make matters worse for the Irish they also lost Paul Stirling on the last ball of the over, caught by Phillips to leave them on 33 for three. Harry Tector was not able to carry on his brilliant form, dismissed for five.
Curtis Campher and Lorcan Tucker, were able to get the Irish out of the hole and bring the score up to 69 for four, before Tucker departed to make it 69 for five. Needing a further 104 from 62 balls for victory.
George Dockrell and Campher also were able to work to form a mini partnership of 24, before Dockrell fell for 15 being caught by Ferguson from the bowling of Ish Sodhi. Curtis Campher also fell in the next over, to leave Ireland in the not ideal position of needing 78 runs still and only eight overs.
Barry McCarthy and Mark Adair, were able to get some runs flowing between them, including three fours from Adair. Jimmy Neesham removed both McCarthy, caught by Sodhi and Adair, caught by Phillips in the same over.
Craig Young was the final wicket to fall, edging behind to Cleaver off Ferguson to give the New Zealanders a 31 run victory in the first T20I of the series.
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