India began their 80-day English sojourn on a promising note beating Ireland by nine wickets in the one-off one-dayer at Belfast on Saturday.
The start of the Indian innings was however delayed by over two and a half hours due to rain and a revised target of 171 in 39 overs was set for the tourists.
Sourav Ganguly and Man-of-the-match Gautam Gambhir steered the side to comfortable victory with four overs to spare. The former Indian skipper remained unbeaten at 74 while Gambhir was 80 not out.
Debutant bowler Roger Whelan started on a brilliant note, scalping the prized wicket of Sachin Tendulkar in the maiden over of the rain-marred innings. The Indian ace returned to pavilion for a paltry score of four.
Ganguly and Gambhir clattered half-centuries each while compiling a 163-run partnership. The latter scored his third one-day fifty off 72 balls while Ganguly completed his 68th ODI fifty off 79 in the 27th over.
Ganguly's six boundaries and one six were enough to turn the crowd ecstatic each time as cheers swamped the damp environs of the Civil Service Cricket Club.
Earlier, skipper Rahul Dravid's decision to field proved worthy as the bowlers restricted the hosts to a modest total.
Pacer S Sreesanth drew first blood in the fifth over of the game. He delivered a fine seam to Kenny Carroll who drove the bowl outside edge as wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik plunged to his right dismissing the opener at a paltry score of seven.
The swashbuckling seamer stemmed the Irish recovery packing Dominick Joyce for 18 in the 14th over. The batsman steered the ball outside off stump as Sourav Ganguly leaped to grab a catch at the second slip - his 100th ODI catch.
Ajit Agarkar cast the third crucial blow to the hosts with a fine yorker which sped past William Porterfield to crash into the stumps. The batsman returned at 16 off 46 balls.
Legspinner Piyush Chawla further dented the opponents' innings by scalping two quick wickets. His first victim was Gary Wilson (13) off a googly in the 25th over. Next to fall in his trap was Kevin O'Brien (3), who was caught easily at midwicket by RP Singh.
In the 35th over, Karthik grabbed an easy catch off Chawla's delivery to remove allrounder Andrew White (8).
Skipper Trent Johnston along with Naill O'Brien lead a fightback to pile a 48-run partnership as the latter completed his fourth ODI fifty with a soild boundary in the 45th over. But, the batsman was trapped in the next delivery by debutant Rohit Sharma at mid-off, off Singh's delivery.
Next, the pacer rattled the stumps to despatch Kyle McCallan as Ireland trudged towards a modest total.
Sreesanth bagged his third wicket in the penultimate over of the innings scalping Johnston. The Irish captain was the second-highest scorer of the side with 34 off 44 balls.
Tendulkar came to bowl the last over and positively so got his 150th ODI wicket when Karthik stumped Roger Whelan in the last ball of the Irish innings.
India missed the services of wicketkeeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni and paceman Zaheer Khan following health reasons. This provided Rohit Sharma a chance to make his international debut.
India: Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), Rohit Sharma, Ajit Agarkar, Rudra Pratap Singh, Piyush Chawla, S Sreesanth.
Ireland: William Porterfield, Kenny Carroll, Dominick Joyce, Niall O'Brien (wicketkeeper), Gary Wilson, Andrew White, Kevin O'Brien, Thinus Fourie, Trent Johnston (captain), Roger Whelan, Kyle McCallan.