Ganguly & Gambhir flatten Irish

On a windy, damp day in Belfast, Ireland’s sun-blest Caribbean escapades of little over two months ago must have felt a world away as they were soundly thrashed by India by nine wickets. Sourav Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir showed the efficient, machine-like qualities associated with the Asian one-day game to cruise home against a diet of unthreatening Irish bowling after the hosts had struggled to a disappointing 193 all out.

Lacking several key players – including number three Eoin Morgan – Ireland required a big innings from one of the top order after being inserted by Rahul Dravid, but none was forthcoming. Sreesanth, RP Singh and Ajit Agarkar all produced enough movement with the new ball early on in helpful conditions to account for the Irish top three and from that point onwards the home side looked out of the game.

Once Sreesanth had removed both Kenneth Carroll and Dominick Joyce and Agarkar slipped a yorker through William Porterfield’s defences, Ireland found their backs pressed firmly against the wall. Piyush Chawla, the rookie legspinner who was so impressive in Bangladesh, then exposed Ireland’s lack of exposure to genuine wrist-spin bowling. Unveiling the full extent of his armoury, Chawla’s topspinner bowled Gary Wilson, while a top-edged googly was to be the end for Kevin O?Brien; the 18-year-old ended with figures of 10-2-29-3.

The only real resistance for Ireland came through Niall O’Brien, one of the few World Cup heroes on show. Just as he had done against Pakistan in the memorable Sabina Park giant killing, O’Brien dropped anchor and showed the application which brought him so many plaudits in the World Cup, yet he could only watch as the wickets tumbled around him. From 83-5, Ireland’s total of 193 was something of a recovery, made possible largely thanks to O’Brien, who eventually gave Rohit Sharma his first ODI catch after a 79-ball 52. Captain Trent Johnson’s 34, full of lusty blows, was the only other significant contribution as Sachin Tendulkar finished off the innings with his 150th wicket in ODI cricket.

Despite the loss of an early wicket ? Roger Whelan, on debut, claiming the prize scalp of Tendulkar for four ? the result was never in doubt with the sheer depth and quality of India’s batting reserves. Chasing a revised target of 171 from 39 overs following rain during the lunch interval, Ganguly and Gambhir simply desiccated an Irish attack compromising mostly of gentle medium-pacer and finger-spin. Gambhir was ruthless on anything slightly wide; Ganguly, at his regal best, was Maharajah-like on the front-foot. Together they added 163 – Ganguly finishing on 73 from 99 balls, Gambhir on 80 from 107 – as India romped home with more overs four overs to spare.

Ireland 193 all out (50 overs)
Niall O?Brien 52, Trent Johnston 34
Piyush Chawla 3-29, Sreesanth 3-50, RP Singh 2-36

India 171-1 (34.5 overs)
Sourav Ganguly 73*, Gautam Gambhir 80*

India won by 7 wickets (D/L method)
Man of the Match: Piyush Chawla

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