Saturday 24 June 2017

Cricket: Porterfield efforts not enough to deny India

Ireland's Trent Johnston (2nd L) celebrates the wicket of India's Virender Sehwag with team mates during their World Cup group B match in Bangalore
Ireland's Trent Johnston (2nd L) celebrates the wicket of India's Virender Sehwag with team mates during their World Cup group B match in Bangalore

Gerrard Hughes

William Porterfield led from the front as Ireland gave World Cup favourites India a scare or two in Bangalore last night before the hosts won by five wickets with 24 balls to spare.

Porterfield top-scored in the game with a solid 75, but the loss of Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce in the first three overs was a major setback that led to Ireland being dismissed for 207.

After his midweek masterpiece against England, Kevin O'Brien could only manage nine runs before chipping a return catch to Yuvraj Singh, a part-time spinner who claimed figures of 5-31.

How the heroes in green fought to defend their modest total, though, with Trent Johnston picking up two early wickets and 18-year-old George Dockrell claiming the prize scalp of Sachin Tendulkar.

Dockrell followed up with a second lbw victim -- Indian captain MS Dhoni -- but any glimmer of victory was extinguished with a four and two sixes by Yusuf Pathan from the youngster's last four balls.

"We got ourselves in a great position after losing two early wickets and we looked okay till the run-out of Niall (O'Brien)," Porterfield said. "An extra 40 runs on that pitch would have been interesting because there was spin in it.

"We are a fighting side and we got early wickets against one of the best batting sides around. We've got three games left in this group and there's no reason why we can't beat any of those teams."

If Ireland were to lose this third Group B qualifying match, it was important they at least did so respectably -- and that minimum target was achieved in some style at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.

Twice India were flustered: first when Porterfield and Niall O'Brien repaired a disastrous start with a third-wicket partnership of 113, then when a couple of quick wickets fell during the chase.

Zaheer Khan, a canny opening bowler, caused havoc at the top of the Ireland order by getting one through Stirling's defences first ball and then finding Joyce's inside edge through to the 'keeper.

Porterfield struck leg-spinner Piyush Chawla for a six over square leg as Ireland began to recover before Niall O'Brien was run out for 46, attempting a quick single to cover.

Ireland desperately needed someone to stay with the captain, but Andrew White fell for five and after arriving to an enormous cheer from the travelling fans, Kevin O'Brien could manage only one boundary.

Porterfield added six fours to his maximum and had faced 104 balls when he also fell to Yuvraj, smashing a poor short delivery straight into the hands of cover.

Scramble

Alex Cusack and John Mooney were unable to repeat their match-turning efforts against England and it was left to Johnston to scramble the score past 200 by becoming only the fourth Ireland batsman to make double figures.

Johnston set the tone for Ireland in the field by accepting a return catch from Virender Sehwag, first ball, and then following up with the wicket of Gautam Gambhir, to leave the hosts on 24-2.

Alas, Ireland simply didn't have enough runs to create sustained pressure and despite Dockrell's two illustrious victims and a run-out, India always had just enough in hand.

After England's six-run victory over South Africa, Ireland's next game against the West Indies in Mohali on Friday is shaping up to be a winner-takes-all clash in the race for the World Cup quarter- finals.

Ireland will hope that Johnston is fit for that crucial match after leaving the field and going to hospital for a scan on a knee injury.

Irish Independent

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