Coming into the game, there had been some debate about India’s best combination at the top of the order in the shortest format, with some suggesting the likes of KL Rahul or Virat Kohli should be moved up the order and Sharma slotted into the middle. Those will surely have been settled for some time as a pair of fabulous knocks from India’s Nos.1 and 2 put them in the driving seat.
As is often the way in ODI cricket, in which the pair also open together, Dhawan was the early aggressor, racing away as Sharma got himself set. By the time he smashed a six off the last ball of the first Powerplay, coming down and lofting seamer Peter Chase back over his head, he had 30 from 15 balls, compared to Sharma’s 24 from 21.
The pair took their time when the fielding restrictions were relaxed, tucking singles and hitting boundaries when possible. They put the foot down once both had passed fifty, at one point taking 34 off 12 balls, and the race to 100 was on. Dhawan fell from the last ball of the 16th over for an excellent 74, and though India’s final flourish was perhaps slightly less sesimic than it might have been - having been 160/1 with four overs left they might have expected 220 rather than less than 210 - their total still seemed match-winning. The likes of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni were able to find the boundary from the get-go, but their wickets set India back somewhat.
Ireland had Chase to thank for stemming the late charge, the quick taking three wickets in his final over - including Sharma six short of his third T20I century. Even with a last-ball six, the 20th over still only cost seven, and he finished with excellent figures of 4/35. Lanky seamer Boyd Rankin was also impressive, conceding 8.50 an over, while Paul Stirling’s economy of 8.00 was also impressive. It was the other change bowlers who cost Ireland, unable to strike in the middle overs and wilting in the face of the openers’ assault.
Ireland’s task was a steep one, but they set out in positive fashion, brushing off the early loss of Stirling, who swatted to Jasprit Bumrah to mid-on, and making their way to 72/2 in the 10th over. James Shannon was their main contributor, striking fearlessly despite only having played seven internationals before today, and racing past 50. With another similar performance Ireland might have got close, but no one was able to match him - he was the only member of Ireland’s top five to score at more than a run a ball.
With the pressure building, something had to give, and Shannon’s dismissal for a 35-ball 60, precipitated a collapse of 41/6 from 85/3 to 126/9. It was left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav who claimed him, skidding a quicker ball past his attempted paddle and into his pads. It was the second of four wickets for the twirler, who complemented a typical wrist-spinner’s penetration with unnering accuracy, conceding just 21 runs and even bowling a maiden.
His leg-spinning partner Yuzvendra Chahal chipped in with three wickets, but was more expensive, and Ireland’s race was run, the only question whether they would bat out the 20 overs, which they managed to do thanks to a battling last-wicket partnership of 6 in 2.5 overs between Rankin and Chase, Ireland’s opening bowlers.
India vs IrelandIreland vs India 2018Kuldeep YadavMS Dhonirohit sharmashikhar dhawansuresh rainavirat kohliyuzvendra chahal
First Published: June 28, 2018, 8:48 AM IST