Monday, March 07, 2011

Cricket World Cup 2011: India v Ireland report

India v Ireland report
India (210-5 in 46 overs) beat Ireland (207 in 47.5 overs) by five wickets in World Cup Group B match in Bangalore.

The jolly green giant-killers of Ireland went searching for a second major scalp on Sunday at the Chinnaswamy Stadium – the venue of their astonishing three-wicket win over England last Wednesday.

Sadly for the romantics, India were ungenerous hosts. They wobbled a couple of times, but still turned in a far more professional performance than Andrew Strauss and company managed on this ground. Complacency, after what happened last week, was not an option.

Even so, Irish optimists will note that Sunday’s match was far from being a landslide, and that their team continues to resemble a full nation more than an associate one.

With the West Indies and Holland yet to come, Ireland still have it in them to snatch the two further wins they need to qualify for the quarter-finals.

In a reversal of the pattern against England, Ireland were well-placed at the halfway point of each innings, only to fade away in the later stages.

Their captain, William Porterfield, gave them a positive start with his punchy 75, scoring heavily from Yusuf Pathan’s part-time off spin. The six he swept off Piyush Chawla was the 100th of the tournament to date.

Porterfield’s partnership with Niall O’Brien carried the score 122 for three in the 27th over, before they were separated by a wasteful run out.

The erosion continued when Andrew White edged a catch behind, and then Kevin O’Brien, Wednesday’s hero, strode to the crease.

With India fielding only four specialist bowlers, the stage was set for another almighty assault. But after one lusty thump through the offside, O’Brien mistimed a drive at a ball from Yuvraj Singh, and offered an easy catch back to the bowler.

The cricket gods rarely allow one man to dominate two matches in succession.

Yuvraj turned out to be India’s matchwinner with both bat and ball. His innocuous-looking left-arm spinners found some turn in a dusty surface – enough turn, in fact, to bring him figures of five for 31, the best in any one-day international on this ground.

When India batted, Trent Johnston, the evergreen 36-year-old, kept things interesting by ripping out Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in the space of six overs.

The home side were then 24 for two and found it difficult to gain momentum under the close examination of Ireland’s spin attack.

Sachin Tendulkar soon found himself undone by 18-year-old slow left-armer George Dockrell, aiming a huge hoick across the line.

Even Dockrell, normally a model of restraint, couldn’t resist a fist pump as he claimed the most famous victim of what promises to be a stellar career.

Then Yuvraj committed his one howler of the match, selling Virat Kohli short on a possible single to third man. That made it 100 for four, and brought a touch of suspense to what had been a pretty straightforward equation.

Now Yuvraj needed to make his error good. He did so with an innings of total poise. Mahendra Singh Dhoni offered steady support as these two noted hitters tapped the singles and ran the twos.

If any further evidence were needed of Ireland’s resourcefulness and razor-sharp outcricket, it was written here, in the respectful manner of this partnership.

Dockrell did eventually snare Dhoni with another stone-dead lbw, leaving himself with a second celebrated name in his scrapbook.

But the new batsman, Pathan, had an entirely different approach to the run-chase, crashing 16 runs from the remainder of that same over.

By finishing on an unbeaten 50, Yuvraj became only the 13th man – and the first in a World Cup – to combine a half-century and a five-wicket haul in the same match.

He has the capacity to be a dangerous force in this tournament. But then so do Ireland, notwithstanding the disappointment of this result.

No comments: