Ireland could not replicate its triumph against England but fought hard against a formidable Indian side in their ICC Cricket World Cup Group B encounter at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. Yuvraj Singh saved the day for India with his maiden five wicket haul and capped that with a fine fifty when India chased. A five wicket win put India to the top of the standings in the group.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and decided to field first. Perhaps, he thought it would be better chasing after the last two matches had seen the side batting second in a better position. The Indians went in to the match with the same eleven that tied against England while Ireland opted for Andrew White to replace Gary Wilson.
Ireland got off to a disastrous start as Paul Stirling was bowled by a Zaheer delivery that angled back into him. He got Ed Joyce in his next over as the ball came back into the left hander and the edge was pouched by Dhoni diving to his right. What followed was the best phase of the Ireland innings. William Porterfield and Niall O’Brien saw off the threats from the new ball bowlers and guided the score along.
Porterfield pulled a short delivery from Zaheer to the boundary while Niall O’ Brien beat the fielder at short cover for another boundary. A pull flick by O’Brien was a delight to watch as Ireland slowly accelerated. A square cut, one of the many he played successfully, fetched a boundary for Porterfield and followed that up with a sweep for six off a free hit. He continued to attack the spinners cutting them for boundaries as O’Brien judiciously rotated the strike. Porterfield reached his fifty in the 24th over and revealed what a fine batsman he is.
The partnership was going great guns when O’Brien was run out to a brilliant piece of fielding by Virat Kohli. The rest of the Ireland batting did not succeed against the Indian bowling as Yuvraj picked 5/31 with his left arm spin. Ireland were bowled out for 207 in the 48th over. They fell 40 runs short of what would have been a challenging total on this pitch.
Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar started off with boundaries in India’s reply. Sehwag flattered but only to deceive as he got a leading edge to a Trent Johnston delivery and the bowler gleefully accepted the catch. Gautam Gambhir showed he was in good touch with a cut and a glance that fetched boundaries. He attempted to flick a Johnston delivery but saw the fielder at short fine leg take a well judged catch. It was a half chance but Ireland had capitalized.
Virat Kohli joined Tendulkar and both gently played the ball with the pitch becoming increasingly slower. The bad balls were dispatched for boundaries. In the 21st over, the young left arm spinner George Dockrell trapped Tendulkar plumb in front of the crease as he missed a sweep and 13 runs later, when Kohli and Yuvraj were involved in a terrible mix up which resulted in Kohli’s run out, Ireland were sensing they had a chance.
Dhoni and Yuvraj batted sensibly while the Ireland bowlers toiled hard. There were a lot of dot balls and the gap between balls remaining and the runs remaining was coming down. Ireland knew a wicket at this stage would give them a better chance but however hard they tried, a wicket eluded them. India needed only 40 off the last 10 overs when Dockrell trapped Dhoni in front of the wicket. It was a critical situation and there was a buzz in the Ireland camp.
Yusuf Pathan quelled any doubts on who was going to win this contest by hoicking Dockrell for two sixes and a four in the same over. Ireland refused to be bogged down and continued to trouble the batsmen. Yuvraj got to his fifty in the 46th over and soon Pathan finished the match with a pull to the leg side boundary.
Ireland can hold their head high after a creditable display from their bowlers. It was their batsmen that had come short on this day. If only one of the batsmen had supported Porterfield after O’Brien’s dismissal, then Ireland would have had 250 on the board which would have been tough for the Indians on this night.
The Indians will be pleased with Yuvraj’s show but that was just about the only gain for them. The way they let Porterfield and O’Brien off the hook allowing that partnership to gain strength was not a good sign. A more experienced team would have cashed in on the offerings and given India much trouble. The fielding standards continue to be poor. The bowlers and the fielders need to wake up soon or the World Cup will be out of their hands.