BARRY McCARTHY hit a sparkling unbeaten half century at Malahide yesterday (FRI) as Ireland recovered from an early collapse to again come within a boundary of beating India in the first of three T20 internationals.

McCarthy’s career-best 51 not out, including four fours and as many sixes, plus a composed 39 from Curtis Campher, helped Ireland to 139-7, only for rain to end the game after 6.5 overs of the reply with India 47-2 - just two runs to the good on DLS.

The two wickets in successive balls taken by Craig Young in that last uncompleted over meant the Boys in Green were even closer to a first win over the juggernauts of the international game than when they lost by four runs on the same ground last year.

“We’re disappointed to not get over the line,” McCarthy said.

“Curtis and I are both aggressive players and we knew we could put a score on the board. We tried to stay positive and take the game to the opposition.”

Yet when George Dockrell popped up a catch in the seventh over of their innings, the Boys in Green were in disarray at 31-5 and seemed more likely to suffer an embarrassingly heavy loss than pull off a shock win.

Andy Balbirnie had clipped the first ball of the match for four only to deflect the second into his stumps, and fast bowling superstar Jasprit Bumrah - playing his first game for 11 months - had also removed Lorcan Tucker by the end of the first over.

Harry Tector and Paul Stirling both departed in the powerplay too, leaving Campher to begin the repairs in a 28-run partnership with Mark Adair before adding 57 off 7.2 overs with McCarthy to take Ireland towards a competitive total.

When Campher was sensationally yorked, the Pembroke all-rounder powered on, concluding his 33-ball onslaught with successive sixes from the final two balls of the innings.

For some bizarre reason Bumrah, who took a regulation 2-24 from his four overs, was named Player-of-the-Match. He owes big Barry a pint.