Twenty20 World Cup: Indian pacers rip through Ireland line-up on a minefield as India begins with a bang

Arshdeep removes the openers cheaply before Hardik, Bumrah and Siraj strike at regular intervals; chasing a 97-run target, Rohit-Pant seal the deal

Updated - June 06, 2024 05:31 am IST

Published - June 05, 2024 11:38 pm IST - New York

India’s captain Rohit Sharma plays a shot during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup cricket match against reland at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Wednesday, June 5, 2024.

India’s captain Rohit Sharma plays a shot during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup cricket match against reland at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. | Photo Credit: K.R Deepak

The Indian team did not overtly celebrate the fall of Ireland wickets. The mind was occupied on batting duties to come on a minefield of a pitch.

On the day, India did enough, starting its ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign with a comfortable eight-wicket victory. The Nassau County International Cricket Stadium surface, which offered uneven bounce and exaggerated movement, helped India’s cause.

Runs came at a premium, just like it did in the opening match at this venue between Sri Lanka and South Africa. The former had crumbled for 77, and Ireland only did marginally better.

The Indian pacers — Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya — cut through Ireland, which folded for 96. The signs of a tough morning for the batters came early. In the fifth over bowled by Arshdeep, Harry Tector cut a sorry figure. One delivery rolled through under the bat, and the next spat up from length to thud into Tector’s gloves.

It was around this time that Ireland shoulders started to droop. The fear of the unexpected led to nervous feet movement, and loose defence took over as the only viable option. The mental frailties were apparent when opener Andy Balbirnie gave up the ghost, exposing his stumps and meekly hanging his bat out.

India needed no second invitation to apply the chokehold. Bumrah, a handful even in batting-friendly conditions, was unplayable here. Extra zip, a tight length and swing was too hot to handle for Ireland.

Tector’s short stint came to an end with a frightening bouncer from Bumrah which crushed his fingers, ricocheted onto the helmet, and flew to infielder Virat Kohli.

Bumrah returned to the attack later to apply the finishing touches with a pinpoint yorker to tailender Josh Little.

There was no respite when all-rounder Hardik came on. With a hint of late movement, an accurate Hardik stuck to the basics to scalp three wickets.

Only Gareth Delany (26, 14b, 2x4, 2x6) had the right idea — smash it and pray for success. The approach worked for a short while, until a horror mix up brought his end. Delany, batting with last man Ben White, refused a second run which would have kept him on strike. A quick release from Siraj in the deep left Delany in no man’s land.

Rohit (52 retired hurt) and Rishabh Pant (36 n.o.) ensured a smooth chase. There was disappointment, however, for Virat Kohli (1, 5b), who sliced a short ball to deep third man.

Rohit waited for the bad balls, especially those on his pads. Once the result was beyond doubt, Rohit and Pant played expansive shots. The skipper reached his 30th T20I fifty. The pitch came to the fore again when Rohit retired hurt after being struck on the shoulder.

The big crowd, made up primarily of Indian fans, left the stadium happy. A tighter contest, however, would have been more befitting of the grand occasion.

Brief scores:

Ireland 96 (Gareth Delany 26, Joshua Little 14, Curtis Campher 12; Hardik Pandya 3/4) lose to India: 97/2 in 12.2 overs (Rohit Sharma 52, Rishabh Pant 36*, Mark Adair 1/27).

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