Monday, March 7, 2011

World Cup: India defeat Ireland by 5 wickets

BANGALORE: An Indian victory at theChinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday was never in doubt and so their five-wicket win did not come as a surprise to anyone. But the fact is that Irelandran India somewhat close, far closer than they should have been allowed to. Too many wickets were lost, too many overs were used up while chasing 208 for victory against an attack that was honest at best. 

Yes, the Indians did collect full points in the end but then these matches against the qualifiers should be more about making a point or two. And who knows, had the big Trent Johnston, who picked up two early wickets, not gone off injured after five overs, it could have been even closer. 

Yuvraj Singh, though, will take such a match everyday. The left-hander starred with the ball and his showing with the bat later justified his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's call to chase after he had won the toss. 

That Yuvraj was India's unlikely bowling hero goes without saying. It was his maiden five-wicket haul that pushed back the Irish cause a long way. The visitors were dismissed for a paltry 207, barely three days after they had chased down more than 300 against England. 

The Indians in turn stuttered a bit, losing Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir cheaply and thenSachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Dhoni all in their 30s but then were well served by Yuvraj the batsman as the target was reached with four overs to spare, setting off wild celebrations in the packed stadium. 

That little cushion in the end was chiefly because of Yusuf Pathan, the only Indian batsman, apart from the composed Yuvraj (50 not out, 75b, 3x4), to make a statement. Pathan (30 not out, 24b, 2x4, 3x6) walked in and straightaway got going with the big hits to ensure that Ireland didn't come too close to causing a second upset in this edition of the World Cup

In the afternoon, the pitch afforded some turn early on but it was a factor neither Piyush Chawlanor Harbhajan Singh, India's frontline spinners, could exploit. Yuvraj, with his part-time left-arm spin was easily the best on view, as his figures (0-0-31-5) reflect. He bowled all ten in one go. 

The early damage was done by Zaheer Khan, who should have had Ireland skipper William Porterfield before he had got off the mark had Pathan held on to the edge at second slip of just the third ball of the innings. Porterfield (75, 104b, 6x4, 1x6) went on to anchor the innings and give it some respectability before that man Yuvraj struck. 

Following the twin strikes by Zaheer, it was a sensible, 148-ball 113-run third wicket stand between the left-handed pair of Porterfield and Niall O-Brien that shored up the Ireland innings. The duo was also helped by some terrible bowling by leg-spinner Chawla, who even sent down two no-balls, the resultant free hit off the first handing the momentum to the Irish innings.

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