Sam Curran stole the show as England started their Twenty20 World Cup campaign with victory over Afghanistan and Jos Buttler's men will fully expect to follow up with another win against Ireland.
Left-armer Curran finished with figures of 5-10 - England's first five-wicket haul in men's T20s - as he claimed four wickets in six balls at the death to tee up a five-wicket victory.
Despite needing just 113 in their chase to win, England only completed the task with 11 balls remaining as their top order failed to fire.
Liam Livingstone, who made his return from injury, was England's only batsman to pass 20 and his 29 runs off 21 deliveries was enough to get them over the line.
With hosts Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka still to come, England will be looking to find some rhythm with the bat against Ireland.
Ireland defeated Scotland and West Indies to seal their place in this phase of the competition, but they were brushed aside by Sri Lanka in their Super 12 opener, limping to a heavy nine-wicket defeat.
|What:||England vs Ireland, T20 World Cup|
|Where:||MCG, Melbourne, Australia|
|When:||05:00, Wednesday 26th October 2022|
|How to watch:||Sky Sports Cricket & Main Event|
With Australia losing their opening game to New Zealand, England have taken early control of Group 1 and a convincing victory over Ireland would set them up nicely for the toughest assignments which are to come.
England came into this World Cup with high hopes, having edged out Pakistan 4-3 in a thrilling series before twice defeating defending champions and tournament hosts Australia at the beginning of this month.
Having bowled superbly against Afghanistan, their batting line-up left a little to be desired, although the strength in depth they have down the order means they have plenty of options to bail them out if required.
A top and middle order featuring the likes of Buttler, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone won’t be down for long and that must strike fear into the Irish bowlers.
Ireland recorded an emphatic nine-wicket victory over West Indies in order to make the Super 12 phase, but that is more down to the demise of the Windies, who were also beaten by Scotland.
Even so, Ireland failed to back that up in their opening game of the Super 12 phase, losing by nine wickets to Sri Lanka, having set a total of just 128-8.
Opener Paul Stirling has put some bad recent efforts behind him, making a knock of 66 not out off just 48 balls against the Windies and adding 34 from just 25 in the domination from Sri Lanka.
More will be required against the pace of Mark Wood and Chris Woakes but the hard-hitting Stirling is a dangerous operator when in the mood so he must make some appeal to be Ireland’s top bat. Getting rid of him early will be key.
England's supremely talented opener Buttler has played little white-ball cricket recently and will be disappointed to have made just 18 from as many balls against Afghanistan.
However, the England skipper was more comfortable at the crease than fellow opener Hales, whose 19 from 20 balls featured just one boundary.
Buttler looked in fine fettle in his final warm-up games with Australia, though, making 68, 17 and 65 not out in the three-game series.
The Three Lions captain will be keen to impress ahead of the heavyweight tussles that are to come and could make a statement by topscoring against Ireland.
The Irish managed to take just one wicket against Sri Lanka last time out, with Joshua Little particularly costly as he four overs went for 45 runs.
Sri Lanka opener Kusal Mendis topscored against Ireland, making 68 not out, and Buttler could follow suit at the MCG.
Curran was the headline act against Afghanistan, taking five wickets for just ten runs from his 3.4 overs.
In the absence of the injured pair Reece Topley and Jofra Archer, Curran grasped his chance with both hands and he could cause plenty more problems for Ireland at the death, too.
Curran also took five wickets across his two games in the warm-up series with Australia so is bowling well and could star for England once more. Backing him to take at least two wickets must make plenty of appeal.Safer Gambling Week (17-23 October) – Let’s talk about safer gambling. Click here for more information on independent resources. Gamble Responsibly.