By KSHVID TEAM
After drawing a fiercely competitive 5-match T20I series against South Africa, the Indian cricket team took a detour on their way to England to complete a 2-match T20I series against Ireland. A much-changed Indian line-up led by Hardik Pandya thrashed the Irish team in the first T20 in Dublin, taking a comprehensive seven-wicket win. The match was reduced to 12 overs per side after rain delayed the start of the game by more than two hours. Deepak Hooda, who opened the innings for India along with contributions from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal, secured the win for the Indian team. In a match reduced to 12 overs, Ireland managed an impressive 108 runs, with Harry Tector top scoring with 64 off 33 deliveries.
But the target proved too little even to an under-strength Indian batting line-up as they chased the target down with 16 balls to spare.
India went into the series to try out some fringe players in the squad who haven't featured against the South Africans. Players like Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad and the returning Sanju Samson have
got a good platform to to make an impression ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year. India made three changes to the side that played in the abandoned 5th T20I against the Proteas.
With Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant joining the test side in England, Deepak Hooda and Suryakumar Yadav, who was returning to the side after a forearm injury, were drafted into the playing XI.
The exciting Umran Malik also made his debut for India after having a breakthrough IPL season earlier this year, replacing Harshal Patel. Umran was joined by Avesh Khan and Bhuvenshwar Kumar
in the fast bowling department along with Chahal and Axar Patel. As far as Ireland are concerned, regulars Paul Stirling and captain Andrew Balbirnie played, with Gareth Delany providing all-round ability at No.3. Mark Adair and Joshua Little's pace was preferred, while Craig Yound edged out Barry McCarthy for the 3rd seamer's slot. Andy McBrine and George Dockrell shouldered the spin responsibilities.
Indian seamers restrict Ireland
India won the toss and Hardik Pandya elected to field first, taking the weather into the equation. With rain delaying the start of the contest, the pitch provided plenty of assistance for the bowlers in the powerplay. In helpful conditions, Bhuvneshwar Kumar beautifully set up the opposition captain Balbirnie with an inswinger that hit the top of off-stump. Stirling hit Pandya for a four off the first ball of the 2nd over, but found the fielder at mid-off on the very next ball. Delany came out with intent and hit Pandya for a four in an over that cost 13 runs and a wicket. Bhuvneshwar bowled a tight over, which helped Avesh Khan remove Delany in his first over, which left Ireland reeling at 22/3. Tector’s 39 counter-attack rescues Ireland. The in-form Harry Tector targeted Axar Patel by hitting the off-spinner for two boundaries over cover. Umran Malik, making his debut, was given the same treatment as Tector hit a four and a six off the fast bowler, who conceded 14 runs. Hardik Pandya was once again taken for 13 runs, with Tector hitting two sixes.
Chahal bowled economically at the other end and removed Tuckner with a wide ball outside off- stump. Tector continued in the same vein at the other end, hitting Bhuvneshwar for a four and a six, who finished with figures of 1/16. Avesh was taken to the cleaners as well in the last over, leaking 17 runs. Tector finished unbeaten on 64 off 33 balls, guiding the Irish to 108 off 12 overs. India chase down the target with ease Deepak Hooda opened the innings ahead of Ruturaj Gaikwad, who had a calf niggle. Ishan Kishan made his intentions clear in the very first over of the chase, hitting two fours and a six off the left- arm seam of Joshua Little. He then attacked Craig Young, scoring a six and a four but fell in the same over for 26 off 11.
Young gave India a shock by dismissing Suryakumar Yadav on the very next ball for a duck. India were in a spot of bother at 30/2 when skipper Hardik Pandya came to the crease. Hooda had a sedate start, scoring 12 runs off his first 14 balls but upped the ante as the innings progressed. The introduction of off-spinner Andy McBrine against the two right-handers worked in India’s favour .
With less than a run-a-ball required, Little was taken for 16 runs in an over, which included two fours, a six and also the wicket of Hardik Pandya. Hooda completed the job, hitting two fours off Little as he finished on 47(29). The Irish couldn0t put up much of a fight against a strong Indian batting line-up but the bowling performance of Craig Young is a positive. They fared much better with the bat in hand as Harry Tector’s 39; heroics enabled them to put up a fighting total on the board. The 2nd T20I will start on Tuesday at the same venue.