England captain Eoin Morgan was pleased to make a return to form as he and Ravi Bopara hit centuries to seal a six-wicket victory against Ireland in the one-off RSA Insurance one-day international at Malahide.
Playing at the ground he grew up on, the Dublin-born Morgan combined with Bopara for an ODI record fifth-wicket stand of 226 in 169 balls. They had come together with England in trouble at 48 for four, after Ireland captain Will Porterfield's century helped the hosts post 269 for seven. But Morgan, who had not passed 50 in his previous 19 ODIs, took charge alongside Bopara to ensure they will be in peak form ahead of the five-game series against Australia.
“Today has been magnificent to get time in middle, runs under my belt and to contribute to an England win,” Morgan told Sky Sports 2. “Time in the middle as a batsman is crucial going into big series.
“Today I felt I was pretty good. I was more nervous in the changing-room than I was in the middle.
“The wicket was tough and challenging. It was a challenge with ball and bat.”
Bopara admitted England had been “in a hole” when he joined Morgan in the middle.
"I was sitting up there (in the changing room) at three down and I said to Michael Carberry that we would do well to win it from here. I said to Morgs when I went out there that if we take it as deep as we can then we can win it with a couple of overs to spare — but we have to take it deep.
“With one-day cricket when you are in that hole you have to take a few risks to free up things.”
Today was England's first ODI since the Champions Trophy final against India, when Morgan and Bopara were out from consecutive deliveries to prompt a late collapse that cost victory.
Bopara was happy with his form as he posted his first ODI century from 74 balls.
“It’s been really good,” he said. “I’ve just tried keeping it simple. I’m hungry for runs. It’s not a nice place when you are sitting on the outside. It hurts. I’ve worked hard to get back in the side.”
Morgan offered praise for Ireland who saw another of their former number, Boyd Rankin, take four wickets in his ODI debut for England.
A record sell-out crowd of 10,000 watched on at Irish cricket’s new headquarters, which were showcased on the international stage for the first time.
“It was an incredible day for Irish cricket to have that sort of support was fantastic,” said Morgan. “Congratulations to Cricket Ireland for a successful day.”
Porterfield was left disappointed after his 112 proved to be in a losing cause.
“It was nice to get 100, but a shame it was in a losing side,” he said. “I felt all right, to play England and pull on an Ireland shirt is always special and it was nice to get a score.”
Porterfield denied that defeat was left to taste even more sour because two former team-mates had been the cornerstone of England’s success.
“It doesn’t matter who gets them against you,” he said. “We were pretty confident on that wicket at half-way and then after the start we got (with the ball).
“Once the ball got softer it didn’t grip as much as we thought it would for the spinner. But we can’t take anything away Morgy and Ravi.”