DUBLIN – India celebrated their 100th T20 international with a 76-run victory against Ireland in front of around 5 000 of their adoring fans at a sun-kissed Malahide on Wednesday.
After posting 208/5, having been put into bat, India restricted Ireland to 132/9, but the first game of the two-match series was all about the occasion and the 9 000 supporters left well satisfied.
It was 2007 when India last visited Ireland and three years since the teams last met, at the 2015 World Cup when Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Dhawan put on 174 for the first wicket in their eight-wicket victory.
It took them only 16 overs to score 160 together on Wednesday, the fourth highest in T20 internationals and just five runs short of India’s best between Sharma and KL Rahul, set just six months ago against Sri Lanka.
The only surprise was that India added just 48 more runs in the last four overs, but that was entirely due to Ireland pace bowler Peter Chase, who took the wickets of MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the last over, although Hardik Pandya finished it with a straight six, the 12th of the innings, to go with 16 fours.
Sharma finished just three runs short of his third T20 century, from 61 balls, and Dhawan, dismissed for 74 from just 45 deliveries, gave one of three catches on the boundary to Stuart Thompson who had an eventful day in the field – he also dropped Sharma on 66 and 73.
The fall of the second wicket, Suresh Raina, led to the biggest roar of the day for the entrance of MS Dhoni and fans went ecstatic when he hit his first ball for four and a six shortly afterwards.
Kohli needs just 17 runs to become the quickest to 2 000 runs in T20 internationals, but he delayed his arrival until the dismissal of Sharma with just three balls remaining.
But, much to the disappointment of the crowd, he didn’t even stay to the end of the innings, caught second-ball by Thompson.
Ireland lost the big-hitting Paul Stirling early, and had scored 43 from the six powerplay overs against the India pacemen.
But leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal took a wicket with the third ball, the first of his three victims, as did Kuldeep Yadav who finished with 4/21 to win the Man of the Match award.
James Shannon dominated the Ireland batting after being dropped on 17 by Sharma, bringing up a 29-ball 50 before he was leg before to Yadav for 60, having hit five fours and four sixes.