Here’s how rain, Ireland put England’s T20 WC in peril

England’s hopes of reaching the T20 World Cup semi-finals suffered a major dampener on Wednesday after the former champions slumped to a shock loss to Ireland as rain forced an early finish at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Chasing 158 for victory, England were 105 for five with 5.3 overs left when the rain came, leaving them stranded at five runs behind the Duckworth-Lewis (DL) par score.

With the start also delayed by rain, Ireland were soon confirmed winners, throwing the Super 12s wide open and triggering rain-dancing among green-clad pockets of fans.

“Myself getting out first over didn’t help, we never managed to get initiative,” said captain Jos Buttler, who was caught behind for a two-ball duck.

“Ireland were excellent, they outplayed us. We made a mistake here (which) has made it difficult in a tough group.”

Slow in their chase, England left themselves vulnerable to the elements and the DL method, the mathematical formula used to calculate a victory target when bad weather interrupts play.

However, Ireland, who have already upset West Indies at the tournament, produced a disciplined bowling performance to restrict England’s big hitters.

They celebrated another famous win over the English, having stunned them by three wickets at the 2011 World Cup in India.

England’s task only gets harder as they face champions Australia at the MCG on Friday, a virtual knockout for both.

“Certainly if you needed a game to get going then England-Australia is one of those,” said Buttler.

In only the second T20 match played between the sides – the first having been washed out at the 2010 World Cup in the West Indies – England’s chase began disastrously.

After Buttler’s dismissal, Josh Little had the out-of-form Alex Hales caught for seven with a miscued pull.

With Ben Stokes bowled for six by Fionn Hand, England were reduced to 29 for three before the end of the powerplay.

It could have been worse had Dawid Malan not been dropped on 23 by Gareth Delany, the Irishman’s second spill after grassing Hales early on.

Three balls later, though, Delany made amends by catching a slogging Harry Brook for 18 off George Dockrell.

Malan then fell for 35 with a miscued pull caught at deep third man off the bowling of Barry McCarthy.

Though the wickets hardly helped, England were in no hurry until Moeen came in and began throwing the bat around.

He hammered a six and three fours to give England a fighting chance as clouds gathered over the stadium.

A few more balls and Moeen could well have pushed his team to victory. But it was all for nothing.

Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie was named Man of the Match, having led from the front with a top score of 62 off 47 balls.

“It’s amazing, kind of emotional,” said Balbirnie.

“To come here (and win) against the tournament favourites is amazing.”

“A few of the fans in the crowd have extended their stay.”

For England, though, it was a ragged display in the field as Balbirnie and Lorcan Tucker (34) put on an 82-run partnership for the second wicket to drive Ireland past 100.

England bowled well at the death to restrict Ireland to 157 when 200 seemed within reach, but as with their batting, the damage was already done.

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