Former MCC Young Cricketer (YC) Kevin O’Brien’s phenomenal innings of 113 from just 63 balls carried Ireland to a shock World Cup victory over a lacklustre England.
The Irish number six smashed the previous record for the fastest World Cup century held by Australia's Matthew Hayden's 66-ball ton in the 2003 tournament.
O'Brien reached the landmark from just 50 deliveries.
He shared a game changing sixth wicket partnership of 162 with Alex Cusack to rescue Ireland from 111-5 in the 25th over.
John Mooney and Trent Johnston guided Ireland home to their huge target of 327 with five balls and three wickets remaining.
England dropped a string of catches and once again looked increasingly shambolic in the field as they slumped to their first defeat of the 2011 World Cup.
Batsmen look good
England’s batsmen continued their excellent form to set Ireland a challenging looking target.
Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen continued their blossoming opening partnership - putting on 91 in a brisk first wicket stand.
Both then threw their wickets away as Strauss was bowled around his legs by George Dockrell and Pietersen played a needless reverse sweep into Kevin's brother's - wicket-keeper Niall O’Brien - hands when on 59.
Jonathan Trott’s remarkable One Day International career continued as he and Ian Bell put together a calm partnership of 167 for the third wicket.
Trott in particular showed his immense value to England, scoring at exactly a run a ball without taking any undue risks.
Both fell short of their century though with Bell out for 81 and Trott clean bowled for a fine 92.
Trott's score saw him pass 1,000 ODI runs in just his 21st innings, matching the achievement of cricketing greats such as Sir Viv Richards.
However, England’s lower middle order failed to take advantage of the magnificent platform. Paul Collingwood hit a towering six but could amass only 16 while Matt Prior, Tim Bresnan and Mike Yardy were all dismissed for single figures.
Ireland start slowly
Ireland lost skipper, and another former YC, Will Porterfield to the first ball of the innings when he played a delivery by James Anderson onto his own stumps.
Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce both played contrasting innings of 32, with Stirling’s taking 28 balls and Joyce’s 61. The older O'Brien brother, Niall, added 29.
Graeme Swann dismissed Joyce, Niall O’Brien and Gary Wilson in quick succession as cracks began to show in the Irish middle order.
But from 111-5 onwards, the match became the Kevin O’Brien show.
The right-hander had briefly threatened in their opening match against Bangladesh but against England he was insatiable.
O'Brien flays England
His half century came from only 30 balls - the fastest in ODI cricket by an Irishman - brought up with a six over long leg off Anderson.
The century partnership with Cusack came from 61 balls and shortly afterwards O’Brien struck the first 100 metre six of the competition when Collingwood was hammered over cow-corner.
He refused to take his foot off the pedal despite being dropped by Strauss on 91 when the England captain just failed to cling onto a massive skied catch.
He brought up his record-breaking century with two runs chipped into the leg side and, after Yardy had dropped Cusack, the 150 partnership followed.
Mooney carried on what had been started, taking advantage of some indecisive ‘death’ bowling from England to take Ireland to within 12 runs of victory ahead of the final two overs.
With his score on 113 O’Brien was run out off the next delivery but after Johnston drove his first ball for four, Ireland cruised home with Mooney unbeaten on 33 from 30 deliveries.
O’Brien, a YC in 2004 and 2005, will deservedly take the plaudits for one of the most spectacular innings ever seen on ODI cricket.
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