India overcome fighting Irish to top group
Bangalore: India’s batting line-up ensured no upsets in their World Cup campaign as a fighting Ireland was done-in by Yusuf Pathan’s cameo towards the end while Yuvraj Singh played the anchor role with his gritty 47th ODI fifty.
Chasing under the lights, the home team had to battle for every run as the Irish outfit made their small total very competitive with intelligent bowling and superb fielding. The final scorecard saw India winning by five wickets, a margin that could have been narrower if the total was slightly more.
The game was a much needed reality check for the Men in Blue as their games in the initial phase of the tournament have exposed some of the chinks in their armour after being tagged favourites to win the trophy.
Yuvraj emerged as the surprise package of the match, getting a five-wicket haul when other spinners were having a tough time in the park and also contributed with the willow when it was needed from him.
Ireland had started to spoil the Indian party as the fifth wicket fell in the form of MS Dhoni’s lbw that saw him asking for a review despite being plumb in front of the wicket, only to be confirmed of the worst.
Things got tight for the home team with a terrible mix-up on the pitch that saw Virat Kohli run out. Ireland had decided to put up a brave fight as the third Indian wicket in the form of Sachin Tendulkar’s lbw went down to George Dockrell. The batsman walked back after scoring 38 runs as Yuvraj came to the crease.
India lost opener Virender Sehwag (5) early-on in their run chase to Trent Johnston’s delivery that stood-up on the batsman, resulting in a leading edge to the bowler. The second hiccup came in the loss of Gautam Gambhir (10), sending some worries down the dressing room.
In the first half of the tie, Ireland were wrapped-up for 207 runs by a slightly more disciplined effort by the Indian bowlers.
Kevin O’Brien, the fastest World Cup century scorer to the turf, came in with a reputation at stake. He was given the bitter Indian medicine of genuine spin artistry and fell to Yuvraj, giving him his second scalp of the day. Yuvraj also took Irish skipper William Porterfield (75) and John Mooney (5) in a great spell of spin bowling, covering the spot of the fifth bowler with panache.
The duo of Porterfield and O’Brien did forge a vital partnership after the early loss of wickets to take Ireland total past the 100-run mark but just one good partnership was not enough to merit mercy from the Indian bowlers.
Zaheer Khan too made his presence felt with three wickets, starting the proceedings with Paul Stirling’s dismissal for a duck. Zaheer clean bowled the batsman with his good line that saw the Irish scorecard reading 1/1. He continued with his lethal form and gave the home team the perfect start with his second wicket of the day in his second over.
Ed Joyce (4) was the victim who was caught brilliantly behind the wickets by Dhoni, sending the packed stadium into a loud cheer. He then took another wicket at the death and was finally given support from the other end as Munaf Patel opened his tally with the last Irish wicket.