India put a confident foot forward in big tour opener

India got their tour of England & Ireland underway in fine fashion as Rohit Sharma (97) and Kuldeep Yadav (4 for 21) led a 76-run rout of Ireland in the first T20I at Malahide, Dublin. India found other contributors in Shikhar Dhawan, who set the tone with a sparkling 74 and Jasprit Bumrah (2 for 19), all of whom made the difference between the two teams look ever so stark.

The result was perhaps never in doubt. The only surprise, if any, was that Ireland avoided getting bowled out inside 20 overs as the last wicket pair of Boyd Rankin and Peter Chase played out 17 balls at the end to end the game on a somewhat hushed tone. In fact, drama in the final stages of the game was restricted to Jasprit Bumrah wincing on his way back to the dressing room after sustaining a blow to his finger off the final ball of the game.

That minor moment and a couple of questionable catching moments aside, India barely had to get out of third gear on a hospitable sunny day in Dublin. Put in to bat, they reached 59 in the powerplay despite Rohit making his now customary steady start. The pyrotechnics at the start came from Dhawan, fresh off a century before Lunch on the first day of a Test match. The left-hander kept his radar limited to areas around the sight screen, repeatedly hitting Ireland’s seamers into those areas after a shimmie down the pitch.

After making only 24 off his first 21, Rohit quickly revved up into action, launching offie Simi Singh into the stands behind deep mid-wicket. Another six off Rankin a couple of overs later and he’d eclipsed his partner in the scoring race, although Dhawan hit a six off George Dockrell to get the mark off his 27th delivery. Rohit reached the milestone of his 39th as the duo quickly completed the fifth 150-run stand in T20I history – three of them now involving Rohit.

The breakthrough eventually came off the last ball of the 16th over when Stuart Thompson completed a catch at long-on to send back Dhawan. This after Thompson had put down two offerings from Rohit – on 66 and 73 – allowed Ireland some respite. Suresh Raina stepped up at No.3, hit a couple of sweetly-timed fours and then became the first dismissed in a memorable period of play in Peter Chase’s career.

Chase had Dhoni caught off a short ball, bowled Rohit three short of his third T20I hundred and then took his third wicket in four balls when Virat Kohli found deep mid-wicket with a slug. Yet India finished with 208 on the board.

The total was beyond Ireland’s reach but James Shannon made a fist of it with an enterprising 35-ball 60. He was reprieved by both Yuzvendra Chahal and Rohit, who upheld the tradition of bad fielding on the day. But Shannon was impressive in his dealing of Chahal, employing the slog sweep to great effect much like how Heinrich Klassen played the leggie in South Africa.

Eventually, India’s spinners had too much in their bags for Shannon and Co. to counter. When Chahal cut down his pace, he had batsmen stumped. Kuldeep was generally unplayable turning it both ways to finish with the best figures by a chinaman bowler in T20 history.

Brief scores: India 208/5 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 97, Shikhar Dhawan 74; Peter Chase 4-35) beat Ireland 132/9 in 20 overs (James Shannon 60; Kuldeep Yadav 4-21, Yuzvendra Chahal 3-38) by 76 runs.

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