Rain interferes late as Ireland hold off strong England challenge
Melbourne's fickle weather halts England's progress
England were unable to gather much momentum during their chase of Ireland's decent total of 157 and will rue the fact they were five runs short of the par score when the rain hit late at the MCG.
The equation was 53 required from 33 deliveries when the players left the field and both teams would have been thinking they were well placed for victory when the heavens opened.
Classy all-rounders Moeen Ali (24*) and Liam Livingstone (1*) had just started to find the boundary with ease, while Ireland knew they were well placed and only had to hold their nerve to prevail.
Joy for Balbirnie and Ireland
It was a well-deserved victory for Ireland and skipper Andy Balbirnie has to take much of the credit following his quickfire 62 from just 47 deliveries and some inspired bowling changes in reply.
Perhaps on a high after his brilliant half-century, Balbirnie rotated his bowlers expertly and England's top-class batting line-up was never able to gather any momentum.
Pacer Josh Little (2/16) did the damage with the new ball by removing both Jos Buttler (0) and Alex Hales (7), while Fionn Hand (1/17) bowled well in his first appearance at the tournament.
Still hope for England
The good news for England is they can still recover and reach the semi-finals, but the bad news is they are likely to have to defeat reigning champions Australia at the MCG on Friday if they are to do so.
Friday's game looms to be a crucial encounter that will help shape the make-up of the final four and England will be hoping for an improved performance with both bat and ball.
None of their batters handled the MCG pitch well, while Livingstone (3/17) and fellow all-rounder Sam Curran (2/30) were arguably the pick of the bowlers.
Speedster Mark Wood (3/34) was expensive early as he consistently hit speeds greater than 150km/h and his match-up against David Warner, Aaron Finch and Co on Friday will be pivotal to the outcome of that clash.
Where to now?
While the loss by England was the major talking point to come out of the match, it would be unfair to Ireland not to mention how they now sit on their own road to a possible semi-final berth.
Ireland's net run rate is poor (-1.068), but the improving European side are now level on points with England and still in contention to pick up their own spot in the final four.
Their next game is against Afghanistan - also at the MCG on Friday - and that is a winnable contest for the Irish should they play with the same conviction they showed on Wednesday.
Ireland: Paul Stirling, Andy Balbirnie (c), Lorcan Tucker (wk), Harry Tector, Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Gareth Delany, Mark Adair, Fionn Hand, Barry McCarthy, Josh Little
England: Jos Buttler (c, wk), Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood
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