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World Cup: High five! Just what the doctor ordered for India

It was just what the doctor had ordered for India - five wins in a row. Ireland won the toss and their opening stand produced 89 runs in 15 overs. Those were the only two things they did right. The rest of the match belonged to India - from the time R Ashwin got India the first breakthrough, to the time Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane walked back to the pavilion together to a standing ovation from his teammates in the dressing room lawn.

WorldCup2015 Updated: Mar 10, 2015 21:05 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
Ireland,India,New Zealand
Shikhar-Dhawan-left-celebrates-with-teammate-Rohit-Sharma-right-during-their-Cricket-World-Cup-Pool-B-match-against-Ireland-in-Hamilton-AP-Photo

It was just what the doctor had ordered for India - five wins in a row. Ireland won the toss and their opening stand produced 89 runs in 15 overs. Those were the only two things they did right. The rest of the match belonged to India - from the time R Ashwin got India the first breakthrough, to the time Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane walked back to the pavilion together to a standing ovation from his teammates in the dressing room lawn.

In a sea of blue like the stands have been in the World Cup so far wherever India have played, the Ireland fans were like the small islands of Melanesia and the dancing did not stop in the stands. The beat had changed though, from the Garba in Melbourne and Perth to non-stop Bhangra Hamilton. And they have promised to see off the team for Australia in Auckland as well.

As if the DJ screaming to the crowd to chant "Jitega bhai, jitega India jitega" was not enough, with about 40 more runs left of the cruise that turned into a virtual chase with Indian batsmen going on a rampage, they played 'Jai Ho' on the PAS as the stands went berserk.

After coasting past the likes of Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies in the tournament, no one thought India would lose to Ireland. So what was the big deal about? It's just that for the whole lot of Indians living in Hamilton for a living and missing home every morning, it has been a long time (2009-10) since India had last won a match in this country.

Five wins on the trot in this edition of the World Cup and, including the last four wins from the previous edition in 2011, it is now a record-equalling winning streak for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, alongside Clive Lloyd. India are also the only team other than New Zealand to take 50 wickets in five matches and Shikhar Dhawan completed his second century after his 137 in Melbourne against South Africa is the icing on the cake.

Shikhar's innings was based on two factors. The first was two chances Ireland spilled when the left-hander was on 5 and then on 10, and the second was a spell of disciplined spin bowling by the part-timers Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina that helped India restrict Ireland to a paltry total of 259. It was way short given the short boundaries and a very flat wicket.

But after hitting top gear Shikhar did not look back. Shikhar had showed his intensions early with a smart pull to the midwicket fence when Rohit snatched the initiative with his plethora of crisp shots around the wicket. Rohit once again lost his concentration after getting to his fifty for at one point looking at the way they were dealing with the bowlers, it seemed Virat Kohli who was waiting his turn to go in and getting up every 15 minutes to stretch himself and shadow with the bat, would have to take off his pads without facing a ball.

Shikhar got his eighth one-day 100, his innings off 85 balls with 11 fours and five sixes. For the time Rohit was there he hit three four and three sixes before chopping one onto his stumps.

On a flat wicket, Indian pacers took some stick early on for continuing to bowl back of the length, something they had done successfully in all the matches in Australia. But Dhoni wasn't bothered and said a wicket like Seddon Park was an aberration. Auckland against Zimbabwe, won't be the same and India can go back to plan A, bowl back of length and surprise batsmen with bouncers and slower bouncers.

First Published: Mar 10, 2015 20:45 IST