India quicks lead demolition of Ireland on fizzing pitch

India

India 97 for 2 (Rohit 52, Pant 36*) beat Ireland 96 (Delany 26, Hardik 3-27, Bumrah 2-6, Arshdeep 2-35) by eight wickets

New York’s second match as a T20I venue was a lot like its first: low-scoring and brutal. Two days after South Africa bowled Sri Lanka out for 77 here, India bowled Ireland out for 96. A different strip was used for this game, but the bounce was just as inconsistent, and batting just as difficult, if not outright dangerous.

India’s selection was spot-on – they picked four fast bowlers including Hardik Pandya, and two spin-bowling allrounders to lengthen their batting, which meant they left Kuldeep Yadav on the bench. They didn’t need all that batting in the end, as Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant helped them cross the line with 46 balls remaining, but the packed pace attack proved extremely useful. Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik picked up 8 for 81 between them, extracting seam movement and up-and-down bounce right through an Ireland innings that lasted just 16 overs.

As good as those performances were, though, this match will be remembered for the conditions. Batters from both teams took body blows – Rohit retired hurt on 52, soon after being struck on the arm – and by the time India wrapped up their win, their thoughts may have gone ahead to June 9 at the same venue, and what kind of pitch they may have to play Pakistan on.

Arshdeep sets the tone

The first two overs gave enough of a clue of how this pitch would behave, with both Arshdeep and Siraj extracting inconsistent bounce. One ball from Arshdeep – seam-up rather than a slower ball or cutter – bounced a second time before reaching wicketkeeper Pant, but most of the inconsistency was up rather than down, with one ball forcing Pant into a leaping, overhead, goalkeeper-style save.

Extra bounce brought India their first wicket, Paul Stirling top-edging a heave across the line at the start of the third over.

By the end of that over, Arshdeep had taken out both openers. He was finding ways to mix up his stock inswinger to the right-hander with balls that kept going with the left-armer’s angle across them, and one of these away-slanters bowled Andy Balbirnie, as he stayed leg-side of the ball and tried to steer one down to third.

Ireland collapse

By the end of the powerplay, Ireland were still only two down, but Harry Tector had already been hit on the glove and the thigh pad and was batting on 1 off 10. That became 4 off 15 before a nasty short ball from Bumrah hurried him, and he ended up gloving the attempted pull into his helmet and then to the fielder at short extra-cover.

By then they had also lost Lorcan Tucker, bowled trying to drive a nip-backer from Hardik.

India kept getting the length ball to nip around and the short-of-length ball to climb, and Ireland kept losing wickets. Even the introduction of spin didn’t stem the collapse, as Barry McCarthy was caught and bowled by an Axar Patel ball that stuck in the pitch. At 50 for 8, Ireland were in danger of falling short of their lowest T20I total – 68 against West Indies during the 2010 edition of this tournament.

They eventually crossed that mark, with Gareth Delany’s risk-taking coming off – where that of his team-mates’ mostly didn’t – in a 14-ball 26 that carried Ireland to 96.

Rohit and Pant finish the job

Rohit and Virat Kohli came out swinging – perhaps they reckoned that the new ball and powerplay field restrictions gave them the best chance of quick runs – and came away with contrasting outcomes.

Kohli fell early, caught on the deep-third boundary while charging at Mark Adair and looking to slap him over the covers.

Rohit enjoyed two slices of early luck – Balbirnie put down a tough chance at second slip in the first over, off Adair, and an inside-edge in the second over, off Josh Little, ran away for four past the stumps – and carried on to score his 30th T20I fifty. The pitch remained treacherous, and Rohit’s control percentage hovered in the 40s for most of his innings, before climbing to 51 by the time he retired hurt. But he hit some telling blows too, most notably two trademark pulls off successive balls from Little that brought up his 599th and 600th sixes in international cricket. Before that, he also went past 4000 runs in T20Is.

Pant looked more fluent than Rohit, indeed as fluent as anyone could have looked on this pitch, and hit three sixes and two fours while scoring an unbeaten 36 off 26. He took a hit to the elbow and one to the shoulder, and his response to the latter blow summed him up as a cricketer and character: he finished the match off the next ball, reverse-scooping McCarthy for six over the wicketkeeper.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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