Deepak Hooda, Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya excelled with the bat as India made a mockery of the Ireland bowling attack to gun down the 109-run target and race to an easy seven-wicket win in the rain-hit opening T20I in Dublin on Sunday.
Hardik Pandya (24 off 12) and Hooda (47 not out off 29) shared a 50-run stand to chase down a stiff 108-run target with 16 balls to spare and take 1-0 series lead.
Notably, after being invited to bat first, Ireland rode on Harry Tector’s counter-attacking 64* to post a solid total of 108 for four in 12 overs. However, it was not meant to be as the Irish were outdone by the brilliance of Pandya and Hooda, who toyed with the opposition attack.
Regular opener Ishan Kishan (26) and his make-shift opening partner Hooda were off to a flyer as they raced to 30/0 in the first 2.3 overs. However, Craig Young dismissed Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav (0) on back-to-back deliveries to dent India in the 109-run chase at The Village.
Captain Pandya joined hands with make-shift opener Hooda and took off-spinner Andy McBrine to the cleaners. McBrine leaked 21 runs in his first over as the momentum shifted towards India in the sixth over. However, Joshua Little struck in his second over to remove Hardik for 24 when India’s score read 94 for 3. Dinesh Karthik walked in next and he, along with Hooda, ensured that India sailed through without any further hiccups.
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Earlier, India opted to bowl in overcast conditions but soon after the rain arrived, delaying the start of play by more than two hours and 20 minutes. The game was reduced to 12 overs a side after the break.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar breached the defense of Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie in the very first over. Skipper Hardik Pandya then got himself into the attack in the second over and dismissed the dangerous Paul Stirling. After hitting the first ball over cover, Stirling went for the same shot but mistimed to be caught at mid-off. Avesh Khan joined the party as he had Gareth Delany caught behind in his first over to leave Ireland at 22 for three.
Ireland managed to stage a spirited recovery thanks to Tector, who took the attack to the Indian pacers, including debutant Umran Malik. He dragged his third ball down the leg side and it raced to the boundary off Lorcan Tucker’s (18 off 16) pads. Two balls later, Tector played a beautiful straight drive off a full delivery. Malik dragged the next one short but Hector was ready to pull it for a six.
The last over of the innings yielded 17 runs and pushed the total past 100 with Tector collecting a boundary from a reverse hit off Avesh before smashing a full toss for six over deep cover. Hector hit his 3rd T20I fifty to power Ireland to a competitive total.