A ruthless India demolished Ireland by 143 runs to clinch the series 2-0 as spinners yet again tormented the hosts after authoritative batting show by the visiting batsmen in the second and final Twenty20 International on Friday. India posted a massive 213 for four after being asked to take the first strike and then bundled out the hosts for a mere 70 in 12.3 overs. It was India’s biggest victory margin (by runs) as they improved on the 93-run win over Sri Lanka at Cuttack in 2017. It was also the joint second-highest margin (by runs) in T20Is with Pakistan 143-run win over West Indies in Karachi earlier this year, and second to 172 runs by Sri Lanka against Kenya in 2007. It was also the lowest total against India in T20I cricket, with Ireland sinking lower than England’s 80 at Colombo in 2012. Ireland never got off the blocks. Unlike in the previous game, they couldn’t comprehend the raw pace of Umesh Yadav (2-19) and Siddarth Kaul (1-4).
India’s new pace duo reduced the opposition to 22-3 within the 4th over, with Umesh removing Ireland’s experienced pairing of Paul Stirling (0) and William Porterfield (14) in successive overs. Half-centurion from the previous game, James Shannon (2) became Kaul’s maiden international wicket. Yuzvendra Chahal (3/21) and Kuldeep Yadav (3/16) routed Ireland again as the hosts crashed to a massive defeat.
Earlier, continuing their tune-up for the England tour, KL Rahul and Suresh Raina struck attacking half-centuries. Barring the odd hiccup, it was another dominant display from the Indian batsmen as Rahul (70) and Raina (69) bossed the Irish bowling to put on 106 runs off 57 balls for the second wicket.
This was after the hosts won the toss and opted to field once again. They made one change, and brought in the experienced William Porterfield. Keeping the England T20I series in mind, India made four rotations changes. Siddarth Kaul made his T20I debut while Umesh Yadav, Dinesh Karthik and Rahul were included in the playing eleven. Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and MS Dhoni were rested.
While the changes were all like-for-like, India opted for permutations in their batting order. Skipper Virat Kohli (9), out for a duck in the first game, opened the innings with Rahul. Again though, he fell cheaply, out caught off a skier at fine leg as George Dockrell held on impressively. Rahul then took centre-stage and smacked the Irish bowling to all parts of the ground.
Overall, he hit three fours and four long sixes during his 36-ball stay, replicating his purple-rich form from the 2018 Indian Premier League season.
He brought up his 4th T20I half-century off 28 balls and then accelerated further thereafter as India crossed the 100-mark in the 10th over and looked comfortably set for another 200-plus total. However, just as he was approaching his century, he played a habitual false stroke and was dismissed.
Kevin O’Brien (3-40) was the partnership breaker for Ireland, striking off his first delivery in the 13th over, accepting a simple return catch. It became a double-blow as Rohit Sharma (0) was caught at backward point two balls later, a shot that can be described lazy at best. It deprived Dinesh Karthik of an opportunity to bat, but more importantly, the dual wickets also sucked out momentum off the Indian innings. Raina though countered with some attacking strokes and brought up his 5th T20I half-century off 34 balls.
Overall, he hit five fours and three sixes and lifted India in the latter half of the innings, adding 41 runs with Manish Pandey (21* off 20 balls) for the fourth wicket. He fell to O’Brien too, becoming his third wicket on the day as India were placed at 169-4 in the 18th over. Hardik Pandya (32*) had other plans though, and he played a 9-ball blitzkrieg knock, which included four towering sixes at the small Malahide Cricket Club ground.
Thanks to his efforts, wherein O’Brien’s final over of the Indian innings was taken for 21 runs, India managed to surpass their total from Wednesday.
Chasing another tall order, Ireland knew they needed a stable start to have any chance of fronting up to the Indian spinners. But with an untidy start, they were never in the hunt.
Chahal struck as soon as he was introduced in the 6th over, bowling Andrew Balbirnie (9). He picked up two more wickets while Kuldeep at the other end proved to be equally lethal. Pandya also picked up 1-20 in his two overs. If Ireland were hoping to make a step forward from the previous game, this turned out to be two steps back as their last seven wickets fell for just 40 runs in the space of 39 balls.
Ireland needed someone to bat out time and avoid a humiliating defeat, but Gary Wilson’s top score of 15 runs told a futile tale. None of the Irish batsmen could cross the 20-run mark, while only four of them made it to double figures in what was a completely hapless showing.
Meanwhile, India rounded up their preparations in fine style for sterner tests ahead.