10 March 2015
Five in five for India
Ashwin leads the show with the ball before Dhawan slams his second ton of the World Cup to clinch victory against Ireland
While Ireland tried its darnedest, India did not allow it to play better cricket than it did.
While Ireland tried its darnedest, India did not allow it to play better cricket than it did. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, who have given India good starts through the four games the team has played in the ICC Cricket World Cup so far – all in Australia – did not adjust their lengths quickly enough after Ireland opted to bat first. Hitting the deck hard, just back of a length worked like a charm on the harder surfaces of Australia, but here the ball came through at the perfect pace to be clattered out of the park.
Paul Stirling and William Porterfield were more than happy to capitalise, and took their team to 60 for no loss after the ten Power Play overs. Ireland became the only team to go wicketless twice in the Power Play, a testament to how well the openers have approached their batting in this tournament.
With the fastest bowlers in the team not quite hitting their straps, Plan A was quickly torn up by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Mohit Sharma was brought into the attack early, in just the fifth over. Mohit bowled a much better length, and when the spin of Ravindra Jadeja was pressed into service in the tenth over, India regained control.
R Ashwin, varying his pace, giving the ball air whenever possible, and using the width of the crease to ensure batsmen had difficulty getting the ball away, got the first breakthrough. With an empty canvas in front of him, Ashwin painted a pretty picture using the deftest of brush strokes. Stirling (42) tried to lift the ball over long-off, but Ashwin had shortened his length just enough to force the chip and the ball sailed straight into the hands of Ajinkya Rahane on the ropes.
Ed Joyce, Ireland’s star batsman, shaped to cut a ball from Suresh Raina that was neither short enough nor wide enough for the stroke, and was defeated by the angle, the ball clattering into the stumps.
Porterfield was joined by the capable Niall O’Brien, and the two rebuilt with alacrity. It was only when Porterfield (67) tried to force the pace, coming down the pitch to attempt to fetch a ball from outside off and hit it over leg, that the stand was broken. Mohit’s quick delivery speared off the leading edge and was simply caught.
Where Porterfield left off, Niall O’Brien took over. After reaching a well constructed half-century, he attacked. Coming down the pitch and pulling strongly in front of square, and driving back down the ground, the runs began to flow more freely. At the other end, though, things were not quite as rosy. Andrew Balbirnie, Kevin O’Brien and Gary Wilson fell in the span of 16 runs and Ireland’s innings had lost puff just when it was time to floor the accelerator.
With a century there for the taking Niall O’Brien (75) fell, shimmying down the pitch and hitting straight to Umesh at backward square-leg. The rash of wickets in the back end of the innings left Ireland on 259, and it would feel it was some distance short of a challenging total on a batting-friendly surface.
Ireland’s bowlers created two chances early on, John Mooney failing to accept a return catch with Shikhar Dhawan on just 5, and Porterfield not managing to latch on to an energetic slash, at backward point, with the same batsman having added five more to his tally.
Rohit Sharma played the more pleasing shots, lofting cutely over long-off with ease, pulling lazily in front of and behind square, but it was Dhawan, making the most of his reprieves, who powered the 174-run opening stand. Rohit (64) dragged one back on, and it was Virat Kohli at the crease when Dhawan worked a full ball off his toes to bring up his second hundred of the tournament, off only 84 balls.
Kohli was masterful and muscular from the moment he arrived at the crease, the meat of his bat finding the ball every time he popped the clutch and let loose his bat. Dhawan departed on an even 100 and Kohli helped himself to 44, and Ajinkya Rahane to 33, as India romped home with eight wickets and 13.1 overs to spare.
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