ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
India v Ireland, Group B, World Cup 2011, Bangalore
Ireland beaten, but with their honour intact
Liam Brickhill at the Chinnaswamy Stadium
March 6, 2011
The citadel of the Chinnaswamy remains secure for India, but the men in green made those in blue fight hard for victory and will leave Bangalore with their honour intact. A gritty 113-run stand between captain William Porterfield and Niall O'Brien, Ireland's highest for the third wicket, leant a respectable sheen to the total and Ireland's never-say-die attitude was in full evidence in the field as they made India fight for every run before a blitzkrieg of Yusuf Pathan boundaries sealed the battle.
Outgunned on almost every front, Ireland nevertheless kept themselves in the game until the very end. Porterfield and the elder O'Brien defied the opposition and the baying crowd to haul their side out of a perilous 9 for 2, and Trent Johnston's two early wickets in his opening spell breathed life into the innings - especially after his scene-stealing 'chicken dance' celebration at Virender Sehwag's dismissal. Throughout, Ireland fought as a team and eventually lost as a team, and there was plenty for their captain to be proud of despite the defeat.
"I'm definitely [proud]," said Porterfield. "There were a lot of key moments through that game where it would've been easy to sit back and say 'well we're playing India and we're on the back foot'. We were 9 for 2 and we fought back from that, and we lost three quick wickets in the middle and we fought back again. And we came out after halftime and fought right from the start and put a bit of pressure on India. We really fought, the way we fielded and bowled throughout, and it's a great credit to the lads."
A travelling brigade of Irish supporters was dwarfed by the 40,000-strong legion of Indian fans that packed the stands, but their team gave them ample reason to make themselves heard all the same. It helped that Ireland's relentless nipping at the ankles of the more fancied Indians meant the home fans couldn't have it all their own way, and for extended sessions there was a tangible mood of silent, even nervous apprehension in the stadium.
"The green stands out from the rest of the crowd," added Porterfield. "It's good to see so many people travelling over. It's great to see the support even back at the hotel, you walk about and you see a lot of familiar faces and a lot of Irish accents. That's great to see and all credit to them for come out here and spending the money to travel and taking time. The lads really appreciate it and hopefully they keep coming."
Their neighbours across the Irish sea had the firepower to push India to the very brink last Sunday, but Ireland don't have quite the stocks that England do. Porterfield rued the "two key moments" where they slipped behind the pace and subsequently failed to set what could have been a challenging total - O'Brien's run-out that broke their century stand, and his own dismissal for 75 when he slapped a Yuvraj Singh long-hop straight to cover. "I think those were the two key points where we could have kicked on from the position we were in, but we lost two wickets and that set us back a bit," he said.
In the field, Ireland were also struck by Johnston's knee injury in his fifth over and his guile and experience was sorely missed later on. Scans revealed no fracture or ligament damage, and it is hoped he would be fit for Ireland's next game against West Indies in Mohali in five days time. The bowling attack stuck gamely to their plans in his absence, and there was a touch of a wobble in India's chase when Virat Kohli was run out to reduce them to 100 for 4.
M S Dhoni has masterminded just this sort of chase countless times before, however, and he nudged his way into the 20s with little fanfare, biding his time and playing himself in and coming to terms with the vagaries of a pitch which offered far more succour to bowlers of all types than had been the case in the previous two games here.
With less than 50 needed, Porterfield's last throw of the dice was to hand the ball to his two most dangerous bowlers: Boyd Rankin and George Dockrell. As the stadium's sound system blared out a techno-infused Bon Jovi singing "it's my life, and it's now or never" Dockrell skipped to the crease and delivered a perfectly-flighted delivery that nipped past Dhoni's lunging defensive stroke and would've smashed into middle had his back leg not got in the way. India were 167 for 5 and it seemed there would be a final twist to the chase.
Enter Yusuf. He responded to the situation in explosive fashion, re-awakening the stadium with a volley of enormous hits. He blasted 16 off the last five balls Dockrell bowled, hammered a third six straight down the ground off Paul Stirling, and finished the job with a flashing glance to the fine-leg boundary shortly afterwards. The end came quickly for Ireland, but the lasting impression they gave was of a team that truly believes it can win every game it plays, no matter who the opposition is.
"We fought really hard when we came out again and threw ourselves around in the field, and also the way we bowled, especially defending a small total like that. As long as we kept picking up wickets it was always there. You never know, we could've come in and got Yusuf first ball and then that would've put even more pressure on them again. You never know what could've happened from there, but we fought hard in defending 200 and you can't ask for any more."
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Slow left-arm spinners generally do well in T20s, plus he can also bat a bit. Then why doesn't he stop runs, take many wickets, or bat quicker in the IPL?