Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
India opener Lokesh Rahul and batsman Suresh Raina struck 70 and 69 respectively as their side demolished Ireland by 143 runs in the second Twenty20 International in Dublin.
Being put in to bat first, India lost captain Virat Kohli early on as he was caught by George Dockrell at deep square off the bowling of Peter Chase for nine runs.
Rahul and Raina made up for the loss of Kohli with a 106-run partnership, during which Rahul cruised past his half-century.
He ended up making 70 off 36 balls, which included three boundaries and six sixes, before he was caught and bowled by Kevin O’Brien.
Rohit Sharma fell two balls later, while Raina ended up scoring 69 off 45 deliveries, which included five boundaries and three sixes, before he was caught by Dockrell off the bowling of O’Brien.
With Hardik Pandya smashing a nine-ball 32 and Manish Pandey scoring 21 off 20 balls, India finished on 213/4 off their 20 overs.
O’Brien was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Chase snapped up one.
Chasing 214 to win, Ireland were dealt a massive blow on the second ball of their innings as Paul Stirling was sent packing by Umesh Yadav for a duck.
William Porterfield made a quickfire 14 before he was clean bowled by Yadav.
James Shannon only made two runs before being removed by debutant Siddarth Kaul.
With Andy Balbirnie, O’Brien and Simi Singh falling in quick succession, the hosts were reeling at 36/6 in the eighth over.
With India firmly in control, they continued to keep Ireland under pressure and took the remaining wickets at regular intervals.
As a result, Ireland were skittled out for 70, which is their second-lowest score in Twenty20 Internationals.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav took three wickets apiece, while Umesh Yadav snapped up two, and Kaul and Pandya claimed one wicket each.
Ireland captain Gary Wilson was less than impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “Yeah it was disappointing the way we didn’t put up a fight. We were better placed than a couple of days ago but it got away from us with the bat.
“We know India like to chase and they’re good at it. The wicket wouldn’t have played different whether we batted or bowled first. There are plenty of lessons to learn with both bat and ball. We’re playing against the best 14 or 15 players of the IPL. We’ll have to have a chat with the coaches.”
Kohli was thrilled to have won the series 2-0, and said: “Just the right kind of momentum we needed. Pretty happy that we got in balanced performances. I’m having a headache right now about who to pick. It’s a healthy sign, guys shining through coming from the bench as well. It’s a great phase for Indian cricket.
“(On facing England) For us the opposition does not really matter. We know if they come hard, we have the batting power to go hard as well. Plus we have to wrist-spinners. It’s going to be a competitive series against England.
[On building a relaxed atmosphere] Not difficult at all. The system has been laid. the benchmark has been set. No one takes anything for granted. That’s something you have to leave to the players and trust them to do the right things for the team. They’ve accepted that responsibility with both hands. I don’t have to poke anyone to try harder as a captain. It takes a lot of load off the management.”
Rahul was named Man of the Match, and said: “It was important for me to make the most of the opportunity that I get. Enjoyed myself in the middle, it was a good wicket. Bit of spongy bounce, back of a length balls were holding up a little bit. But if you spent some time, you could get used to it. I’ve been in good form and just got into good positions to strike the ball.
“It’s important to use time off to work on technique, try to get stronger and remain in the right mindspace. With the type of team we have these days, it’s difficult to get in. Whenever I have off time, I try to get stronger. I’ve never played in the UK before. Only seen on TV. We’re all looking forward to it and take the challenge. It’s what we’ve been doing, the last 3-4 years, whatever challenge is thrown at us. This series will also test our characters and we’re looking forward to it.”