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Dhawan century extends India’s dominance

By EMN Updated: Mar 10, 2015 10:23 pm

Hamilton, March 10

India made short work of Ireland’s total of 259 on a distinctly Indian-flavoured day at Seddon Park, with Shikhar Dhawan’s 85-ball 100 forming the foundation for an eight-wicket win with 13.1 overs to spare that made it five out of five for the defending World Cup champions. Ireland opted to bat and looked good for at least 300 after their best opening stand of the tournament, and later a run-a-ball 75 from Niall O’Brien, but they fell away after the batting Powerplay in a collapse of 6 for 53 to leave India needing 260 to win.MS Dhoni quickly saw that pace wasn’t his best choice on today’s Seddon Park surface and turned to spin early on, getting 30 overs out of R Ashwin, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit Sharma for the cost of 144 runs. That proved a crucial move in tying Ireland down after they made their best opening stand of the World Cup, and later on a brief flurry against India’s best bowler, Ashwin, sent Ireland’s batsmen into overdrive which in turn proved their downfall. Ireland got 19 runs from 11 balls bowled by Ashwin during the batting Powerplay, but off his last delivery Andy Balbirnie tried one shot too many, and that cued a collapse of 6 for 53.
William Porterfield made his first significant contribution to Ireland’s World Cup, scoring a solid 67, and then Niall O’Brien raised hopes of Ireland touching 300, but a series of overaggressive shots saw them bowled out for 259 in 49 overs – the most any team has made against India in the tournament.
Ireland’s openers dominated the first chapter of this match, putting on 89 in 15 overs. Porterfield and Paul Stirling cashed in on some short-pitched bowling from Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami, in particular, and threatened to do more damage against Jadeja, who Porterfield cut and Stirling thumped for six early on. A loose chip from Stirling to long-off delivered Ashwin the first strike off the last ball of the 15th over, and Raina struck with his eighth delivery, bowling Ed Joyce for 2 when the batsman missed a cut.
That prompted Dhoni to adopt a subcontinental approach and he rotated his spinners well, the result being that boundaries dried up. Ashwin bowled 32 dot balls in a fine first spell (8-1-19-1) and Raina’s ten overs cost just 40, a crucial passage for India before Niall O’Brien cut loose. After making 2 from 19 balls, the left-hander got going by sweeping and paddling the spinners. He broke free with a lofted four off Rohit in the 30th over, using his feet to collect the ball on the full, and went inside-out over the offside for four next ball.
Dhoni missed a leg-side stumping off Raina to reprieve Porterfield on 66 from 90, but that didn’t cost India much. After 31 overs, with Ireland 144 for 2, Dhoni went back to pace with Mohit and that did the trick, courtesy a nothing shot from Porterfield who advanced and got a top edge to mid-off for 67. Niall O’Brien reached his 14th ODI fifty with a six off Ashwin and in the next over, he charged Jadeja and got six over wide mid-on. Ashwin’s second spell produced 19 runs in two overs for Ireland but one shot too many from Balbirnie saw him top-edge a sweep to a running Shami at short fine leg, off Ashwin’s final delivery.
Kevin O’Brien’s poor tournament continued when he nicked Shami behind for 1, and when Dhoni opted for Jadeja in the 42nd over Gary Wilson top-edged a sweep for 6. Then Dhoni called on Shami, and his first ball was clipped off the pads by Niall O’Brien straight to square leg. The tail made little impact, and Ireland subsided with an over to spare.
India’s chase was without much incident, as Dhawan and Rohit ticked off boundaries almost at will in a stand of 174 – the second highest they’ve achieved as an opening pair. Dhawan was the beneficiary of two lives, on 5 when John Mooney dropped a firm caught-and-bowled chance, and 10 when a leaping Porterfield at backward point failed to intercept a cut, and used them to make his third fifty-plus score of the tournament. His preferred horizontal-bat shots were on ample display, with Mooney, Alex Cusack, Stuart Thompson, George Dockrell and Stirling each erring in lengths.
Rohit threaded achingly gorgeous drives through the offside when Ireland’s seamers pitched too full, eliciting ecstatic groans from the large Indian contingent packing the stands and embankments, and when he lofted Mooney for six over mid-off the ground DJ further fuelled the fans with Punjabi beats over the PA system. Like Dhawan, Rohit pounced on short deliveries – Dockrell’s first over contained a six over midwicket – and when the boundaries dried up he rolled his wrists and steered fine to keep runs ticking. This was the pair’s 11th partnership of at least fifty.
Once Rohit fell on 64 from 66 balls, dragging Thompson onto the stumps, Dhawan marched to his century before he was caught off an outside edge on 100. The chase was finished off by Virat Kohli, who made 44 in a stand of 70, and Ajinkya Rahane played some eye-catching shots during his 28-ball 33.

By EMN Updated: Mar 10, 2015 10:23:03 pm