Dublin: Perhaps Ireland were just trying their best to be good hosts. A tour from India, even when it is only two matches long, is invaluable from an up-and-coming side, bringing with it potentials for increased ticket sales, increased TV rights deals, and a chance to see one of the best sides in the world up close, and it is only natural that Ireland would want to be welcoming.
It is one explanation for the pitch on which the two sides played the first of two T20Is which, far from being the kind of seamers’ paradise we have come to expect from the Emerald Isle, offered copious turn, suiting down to the ground a side with perhaps more world-class spinners to call on than any other. Their spin duo, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, duly took seven wickets between them, with the former claiming the player of the match award for his 4/21.
“I think the wicket was good to bat on and was turning a bit,” said Kuldeep. “The wristspinners get more turn and use variations. If you're bowling in the right areas and using variations, it will be difficult for any team.”
Chahal agreed. “When I bowled the first over, the ball was turning outside off. I did give away two extra sixes but this is a good experience on my first tour of England and Ireland.”
Ireland’s captain Gary Wilson was surprised by the amount of turn, and conceded that he could have used spin more when India were batting. Off-spinner Paul Stirling was Ireland’s most economical bowler, but was given just two overs.
“I did not expect it to spin like it did in the second innings,” he said. “Possibly, I could have bowled the spinners more. In hindsight, that's always the thing, isn't it?”
While India were heavy favourites coming into the game, and the pitch taking spin only made them more so, there were several encouraging aspects of this performance. Perhaps most of all was the willingness of the team to communicate and suggest ideas in order to come out on top.
“Whenever we bowl, me and Chahal talk a lot” said Kuldeep. “Chahal bowled first and said the wicket was slow and asked me to bowl a bit quicker.”
Chahal credited not just Kuldeep, but former India captain MS Dhoni for his success in tying down Ireland's impressive opener James Shannon, who made a 35-ball 60. “I had to mix my variations,” he said. “Mahi told me Shannon is a tall guy and bowl away from the reach and try to spin it away far.”