'We were surprised the way they batted': Harshal admits being taken aback by Ireland's chase; 'We made a few mistakes'
Indian bowler Harshal Patel spoke about Ireland's batting performance in the second T20I as the home side almost chased down a 226-run target in Dublin.
Team India wrapped up a series victory over Ireland on Tuesday, but it was far from straightforward, with the hosts only losing by 4 runs and taking a 226-run chase right to the last ball. The Irish batters made a strong account of themselves right from the top, earning plaudits from all over the cricketing fraternity, in what was a memorable performance despite the loss.
Deepak Hooda became India’s fourth centurion in T20Is, ably supported by Sanju Samson as they put together a record-breaking partnership of 176, the highest for India in T20Is. Although at one point it looked as if India might get to 250, Ireland managed to wrestle back some momentum and pick up several wickets at the death, which would have given their batters some confidence.
Harshal Patel, who had a poor day with bat and ball, finishing with a golden duck and figures of 1-54, says he thought they had enough on the board. “We were comfortable. When you get 225, you defend it most of the times.” A target of more than 226 has only been chased down four times in T20I cricket.
“They played some really good shots, the wicket was a belter, the outfield was fast, we made a few mistakes, they got close, but we held our nerves and closed the game,” said Harshal.
Ireland entered the last 2 overs needing 31 runs with George Dockrell on a rampage, but India did well to starve Dockrell off the strike and milk dot balls from Mark Adair. Harshal bowled the penultimate over and youngster Umran Malik the final, and despite a couple of no-balls in the mix, both managed to hold their nerves on a small ground. “The momentum was on the batting side but he (Umran Malik) held his nerve.”
However, Harshal was full of praise for the manner in which the Irish players batted, and their ability to score runs against all kinds of bowling. They were able to put pressure on India’s best bowler in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, especially Paul Stirling early in the innings as he bludgeoned 40(18), as well as leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, George Dockrell helping take his final over for 17 runs. Captain Andy Balbirnie played a skipper’s knock as well, scoring 60(37) in an innings with 7 sixes.
“They played some exceptional shots and we were sort of surprised the way they batted today. There's no doubt about the quality of the Ireland batters,” said Harshal.
The Ireland batters should certainly hold their head up high for managing to challenge India’s bowling attack and arriving on the cusp of victory, just as Umran Malik should be proud of bowling 3 very strong balls to shut the door on Ireland. India won the series comprehensively (2-0), and some of their younger players are sure to treasure the experience.
India will now begin their final Test match against England at Edgbaston, Birmingham on July 1, before playing a limited over series against the side beginning July 7, consisting of 3 T20Is and as many ODIs.