India's T20 World Cup opener wasn't even warm-up as Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah seal comfortable win over Ireland | Crickit

India's T20 World Cup opener wasn't even warm-up as Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah seal comfortable win over Ireland

By, New Delhi
Jun 05, 2024 11:49 PM IST

On a wicket that had something for the pacers, Pandya and Co ran through the Irish in quick time.

If this T20 World Cup is supposed to be an advertisement for cricket and appeal to unfamiliar viewers trickling into the venues in the United States, it isn’t fulfilling that purpose in its opening week. For the second successive game at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Long Island, New York, the team batting first was bowled out for a total below 100. On Monday, Sri Lanka were bundled for 77 as South Africa’s Anrich Nortje led the way with a four-for. On Wednesday, Ireland folded up for 96 after a collective bowling effort by India. Hardik Pandya took 3/27 while player-of-the-match Jasprit Bumrah and Arshdeep Singh claimed two each.

India's Jasprit Bumrah and teammates celebrate the dismissal of Ireland' Harry Tector (ICC- X)
India's Jasprit Bumrah and teammates celebrate the dismissal of Ireland' Harry Tector (ICC- X)

The gulf in quality meant India cruised to the target with 46 balls in hand to open their campaign with an eight-wicket win. But both matches have been played on tricky drop-in pitches which are far from desirable for this format. The slow outfield hasn’t helped matters either. The only concern for India, however, was skipper Rohit Sharma retiring hurt on 52 after 10 overs due to a blow on his right forearm off left-arm pacer Josh Little. The incident had occurred in the ninth over, to which he responded by pulling the next two balls for sixes. India will hope Rohit is fine for their next game in Group A against Pakistan on Sunday.

ALSO READ: IND vs IRE Live Score, T20 World Cup 2024: Kohli's position under the spotlight

While there isn’t much else to mull over from this fixture, India’s playing combination was interesting nevertheless. Yashasvi Jaiswal’s omission was apparent from the warm-up game against Bangladesh. But the composition of India’s bowling attack entailed surprises on two counts. One, they chose to go in with all three specialist pacers available in the squad with Pandya providing the fourth seam-bowling option. Two, left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, a match-winner in white-ball cricket over the past couple of years, was left out for Axar Patel.

The pace-heavy attack was appropriate for Wednesday given the early start, the presence of cloud cover and uncertainty about the nature of the surface. After opting to bowl, India’s pace battery quickly hit their stride too. Arshdeep and Mohammed Siraj set the tone by capitalising on the lateral movement that was available right through. There was also variable bounce – a delivery from Arshdeep in the opening over went on the bounce to the wicketkeeper while a few rose steeply from a length – to keep the batters guessing.

Arshdeep struck twice in a two-run third over. Ireland skipper Paul Stirling departed when he only managed a top edge on an attempted pull. It helped Rishabh Pant, returning for India after last playing at the highest level in December 2022 due to a car accident, quickly get into the thick of the action as he ran back a few metres to settle under a skier and complete the catch. Five balls later, Andy Balbirnie, the other opening batter for Ireland, was bowled by his own doing. The ball wasn’t threatening, but Balbirnie paid the price for trying to open the face of his bat and run it through third man.

At 9/2 after three overs, this was far from the ideal start for Ireland. If they were under the impression that the pressure would ease up, they were grossly mistaken of course. Charging in was Bumrah in the sixth over, instantly getting the ball to jag in and away in an opening over that didn’t cost a run. Another bowling change was effected in the seventh over as Rohit – he played under Pandya at Mumbai Indians in the recently-concluded IPL -- brought the all-rounder into the attack.

Pandya hadn’t had much to cheer about during MI’s bottom-placed finish, but early signs are that a change in jersey and surroundings may just uplift the 30-year-old’s fortunes. Having smashed an unbeaten 40 off 23 balls in India’s warm-up game against Bangladesh a few days ago, he had a good outing with the ball on this occasion.

Just five balls into his first over, he breached the gap between Lorcan Tucker’s bat and pad with a nip-backer that hit the woodwork. Tucker had scooped Siraj and cut Arshdeep for two fours, but erred in his shot selection against Pandya.

“I really liked the first wicket. Generally, I don’t hit the stumps often, I have a tendency to bowl back of a length, but on this wicket, I needed to be a lot fuller to be in the game,” Pandya would say at the mid-innings break.

Bumrah followed it up by dismissing Harry Tector in the next over. Having pushed and prodded for 4 off 15 balls, Tector’s misery ended when a brute of a bouncer from Bumrah rushed him. Targeted at his head, Tector thought of pulling but was a fraction late in his response, the ball hitting his glove and deflecting onto his helmet before lobbing to Virat Kohli at cover.

From 36/4, Ireland slid further to 44/5, 46/6 and 49/7 in quick succession as Pandya added to his tally. The pitch wasn’t favourable for strokeplay, but Ireland didn’t help themselves with some reckless options in the circumstances. Axar, too, joined in on the act with a caught and bowled in the 12th over – his only over of the innings – to claim Ireland’s eighth wicket. Only two batters had reached double figures till then, but Gareth Delany and Josh Little swung the bat towards the end and managed to help Ireland reach 96 before a run out brought an end to their innings.

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