India trounces Ireland by 8 wickets to start the 2024 T20 World Cup campaign on a winning note

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Hardik Pandya was the leading wicket-taker against Ireland on Wednesday

India started their 2024 ICC T20 World Cup campaign with a win as the Men in Blue defeated Ireland by 8 wickets on Wednesday at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York.

Andrew Balbirnie and skipper Paul Stirling started positively as the duo ran three runs off the first two balls bowled by Arshdeep Singh but the runs completely dried up as India bowled eight consecutive dot balls with Mohammed Siraj starting fiercely after Arshdeep tightened the screws at the end of the first over.

Balbirnie scored the first boundary of the innings off Siraj but Arshdeep struck on the first ball of the third over as Stirling skied the ball and Rishabh Pant did well to complete the catch to dismiss the Irish skipper. On the last ball of the over, Balbirnie was completely undone by Arshdeep’s pace as the ball broke the stumps dismissing both Irish opening batters in the same over.

Siraj continued to trouble Lorcan Tucker in his second over but once again conceded a boundary as the wicket-keeper batter played a pre-meditated shot scooping the ball over Pant.

The Irish side procured as many runs off the fifth over as they did in the first overs with Arshdeep giving away 8 runs in wides and Tucker also procured a four off the last ball of the over which forced Indian skipper Rohit Sharma to turn to Jasprit Bumrah who started his spell with a maiden over as Harry Tector failed to read the line and length throughout the sixth over.

Vice-captain Hardik Pandya was the next in line to be introduced into the bowling attack and the Mumbai Indians skipper immediately delivered as he castled Tucker on a score of 10 runs. Curtis Campher arrived on the crease at No.5 and immediately started with a boundary punishing Pandya who strayed onto the pads for the first time in the morning.

Tector, who was struggling for many overs, finally succumbed to Bumrah as a short ball was his undoing with the ball flicking off Tector’s thumb and helmet before Virat Kohli pouched the ball safely.

Campher continued his usual routine as he scored the first maximum of the match smashing Pandya down the ground for six runs on the first ball of the ninth over. Hardik finally exacted revenge on Campher as the all-rounder edged the ball behind the wickets and Pant completed the catch to dismiss the dangerous customer on a score of 12 runs off 8 balls.

Siraj could have struck the sixth wicket of the innings as George Dockrell chipped the ball towards the mid-off region but Rohit spilt the catch despite putting in the effort. Two balls later, Dockrell once again gave an opportunity as he top-edged the ball straight up in the air allowing Bumrah to complete the catch.

Pandya struck for the third time on the day as Mark Adair found Shivam Dube in the deep and the Chennai Super Kings all-rounder did well to complete an easy catch to expose the Irish tail with 59 balls remaining in the innings.

In the 12th over, Rohit finally turned to a spinner as Axar Patel completed a brilliant catch off his own bowling to dismiss Barry McCarthy on a duck. Later in the over, Gareth Delany survived a stumping call and smashed a maximum off Pandya’s first ball of the fourth over before Josh Little contributed four runs with a shot down the ground.

Ravindra Jadeja was the sixth Indian to roll his arm over against Ireland and the left-arm spinner was welcomed into the attack by Little with a reverse-sweep that ran to the fence for four runs. With runs leaking from both ends, Sharma once again turned to Bumrah who delivered the perfect yorker to dismiss Litlle on the score of 14 runs off 13 balls.

In the 16th over, Delany struck a four and a six sandwiched by a catch drop by Jadeja which proved expensive for the Men in Blue. After scoring another boundary on the fourth ball, Delany once again took a single on the penultimate ball of the over successfully farming the strike but a surprising no-ball call on the supposed last ball of the over awarded a free-hit to No.11 Benjamin White who was run-out ending the Irish innings at a total of 96 runs.

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli opened the innings for the fan favorites in New York

Chasing a target of 97 runs, skipper Rohit wasn’t in a hurry and saw off Adair with defensive shots but the fast bowler did produce an outside edge off Rohit’s blade but the ball burst through Balbirnie’s hands and ran off to the fence. In the second over, a streaky inside edge gifted another boundary to Rohit who finally scored a huge maximum over the long-on region punishing Little.

Adair was at his best yet again in the third over and Kohli decided to up the ante after struggling to accumulate runs at a quicker pace but holed out in the deep as White completed the catch off Adair’s bowling. 

Pant walked out to bat at No.3 and smashed a boundary off the second ball he faced as Adair bowled a rare poor delivery allowing the Delhi Capitals skipper to get off the mark in fashion.

McCarthy also started on a good note and bowled a tight first over which could have seen skipper Rohit getting run out but Adair couldn’t hit the stumps from mid-on before bowling another tight over which troubled the pair of Pant and Rohit.

Little was re-introduced into the attack and another overpitched delivery from the left-arm fast bowler broke the 16-ball boundary-less streak but Campher followed it up with a tight over conceding only four runs in his first over.

Pant was the next to procure a boundary as he played a shot down the ground against McCarthy and although the shot lacked conviction, the ball crawled over the boundary line. 

Little’s re-introduction once again meant an increase in the flow of runs as Rohit smashed two consecutive maximums off the Gujarat Titans bowler who continued to bowl short to the Indian skipper despite knowing how well he deals with short-pitched deliveries.

Adair completed his quota of overs inside the first 10 overs and conceded 12 runs off his last over including a boundary which helped skipper Rohit add another half-century to his T20I tally after reaching the 4000-run mark in T20Is earlier in the innings.

The drinks break also allowed the Indian physio to treat Rohit who was hit on the arm in the ninth over and the Indian skipper had to retire hurt allowing Suryakumar Yadav to come out to bat in the middle.

In the 11th over, another poor delivery from Little allowed Pant to free his arms and send the ball flying over the mid-wicket region for a maximum. The southpaw was also hit on the body by Little and needed attention from the physio but the DC skipper decided to remain out in the middle till the end of the run-chase.

The Irish contingent decided to introduce the wrist-spinner White into the attack and Pant identified a favorable match-up smashing him to the fence with a powerful cover drive. But White didn’t end without a successful moment as Suryakumar skied the ball towards the deep mid-wicket fielder and Dockrell completed the catch to dismiss the ICC Men’s No.1 ranked T20I batter at a score of 2 runs off 4 balls.

While Dube failed to get off the mark, Pant brought out the switch hit to slap the ball over the wicket-keeper’s head for a maximum and helped India seal the 8-wicket win with 46 balls to spare.