INDvsIRE: Hardik-led visitors eye series win over spirited hosts

Harry Tector’s counter-attacking 64 not out off just 33 balls (6 fours, 3 sixes) propelled Ireland to 108 for four after rain reduced the match to 12 overs per side.
In batting-friendly conditions, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal delivered a ‘Man of the match’ performance
In batting-friendly conditions, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal delivered a ‘Man of the match’ performance

MALAHIDE: Ireland put up a spirited fight but India proved too strong for the host as the visitor won the rain-hit opening T20I by seven wickets here on Sunday.

Harry Tector’s counter-attacking 64 not out off just 33 balls (6 fours, 3 sixes) propelled Ireland to 108 for four after rain reduced the match to 12 overs per side. In the chase, India remained ahead of the required run-rate throughout, thanks to contributions from Deepak Hooda (47 not out off 29 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes), Ishan Kishan (26 off 11 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) and skipper Hardik Pandya (24 off 12 balls, 1 four, 3 sixes).

The visitor cruised to victory in just 9.2 overs. Kishan got India off to a quick start as the young southpaw struck two fours and a maximum off Josh Little in the very first over.

In a rather surprising move, Hooda replaced Ruturaj Gaikwad at top of the order although the latter was part of the eleven.

Hooda found his rhythm after a scratchy start and combined with Hardik for a match-winning 64-run third-wicket partnership. Just when it looked like India was running away with the contest, pacer Craig Young (2/18) dismissed Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav (0) off successive deliveries in the third over.

Kishan was clean bowled when attempting a big shot while the returning Suryakumar was trapped LBW with a beauty. Despite the double blow, Hooda and Hardik continued to play their shots, with a 21-run over from Andy McBrine putting India in control.

While Hardik departed after smashing three sixes, Hooda stayed till the end and hit the winning runs. Earlier, India opted to bowl in overcast conditions, but rain delayed the start of play by more than two hours and 20 minutes.

In the opening over, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/16) swung the ball both ways before an inswinger breached the defence of Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie (0). Hardik (1/26) got himself into the attack in the second over and took just two balls to dismiss Paul Stirling (4). After hitting the first ball over the cover region, Stirling went for the same shot but mistimed his drive to be caught at mid-off.

Avesh Khan (1/22) then had Gareth Delany (8) caught behind in his first over to leave the home team at 22 for three. Later, Ireland staged a spirited recovery via Tector, who went after the India pacers, including debutant Umran Malik. The last over of the innings, bowled by Avesh, yielded 17 runs and pushed Ireland’s total past 100. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (1/11) impressed, conceding just 11 runs of three overs in batting-friendly conditions.

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