Hot favorites for 2011 World Cup, India struggled to defeat Ireland by five wickets in their Group B match at Bengaluru on Sunday. Ireland, who with their stunning victory over England, were pumped up to take on a formidable India, which is known for its batting strength.
Indian skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, perhaps did the right thing to put Ireland to bat first on winning the toss. Simply because India has strong batting line up to chase any big totals! India, in fact, which chose to bat first hoping to defend its competitive total of 338 put up against England, failed and managed to escape from ‘jaws of defeat’ as England, in spite of chasing bravely fall short of a victory and end the match with a tie.
That bitter experience perhaps made the Indian team management to prefer to put opponents into bat on winning the toss. And, that strategy proved fruitful; though India struggled even to chase the small total set by Ireland of 208. Many expected Indian openers Sachin and Sehwag pair enough to score these runs. But, the Ireland bowlers come well with ball to strike early blows, dismissing Sehwar and Gautam Gambhir at nine and 10 runs respectively. Chasing 208 for victory, India wobbled in the middle overs before Yuvraj Singh (50 not out) and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (34) brought things under control.
Sachin Tendulkar (38) and Virat Kohli (34) were the other contributors with the bat. Yusuf Pathan smashed three sixes for his 30 off 24 balls as India reached home with 24 balls remaining.
Earlier, Yuvraj Singh took his maiden five-wicket haul as India bowled our Ireland for 207 in a World Cup Group B contest at the choc-a-bloc M.Chinnaswamy Stadium here Sunday.
Part-timer Yuvraj was effective with his left-arm spin and finished with 5-31 that included the wicket of Ireland captain William Potterfield, who scored a fighting 75.
Yuvraj also dismissed Kevin O’Brien (9), Ireland’s star in their sensational victory against England with the World Cup’s fastest century. Ireland, coming on the back of a brilliant chase against England, did not set the field alight, but certainly did not embarass themselves.
With this victory, India occupies the top slot in Group B.