It was on March 12, 2011 at Nagpur that India lost a World Cup game for the last time. Dhoni’s team had piled up 296 but South Africa prevailed with a three-wicket win with two balls to spare. That was the one match India didn’t deserve to lose because a brilliant 111 by master blaster Sachin Tendulkar had carried India to 267/1 in the 40th over. But with Tendulkar getting out at that score; 8 more wickets fell for the addition of just 29 runs to a fiery spell from Dale Steyn. Afterwards, India beat West Indies in their last league match; Australia in the quarterfinal; Pakistan in the semifinal and Sri Lanka in the final. With their 8-wicket victory over Ireland at Hamilton on March 10, 2015, India completed a 9-match winning streak in World Cup matches. India has made another record at the CWC 2015 by bowling out the opposition to claim their 50th wicket in five matches. In yesterday’s match, India yielded 60 runs in the first 10 overs as a threatening pair of William Porterfield and Paul Stirling looked like taking the early advantage with an 89-run opening stand. But Ashwin, Jadeja and Raina put the brake on scoring in middle overs. In between, Niall O’Brien and Andy Balbirnie struck run-a-ball 75 and 24 respectively to take Ireland to 259/10 in 49 overs. India replied solidly with an opening stand of 174 by the 24th over. Shikhar Dhawan completed his second century of the competition while Sharma scored 64. Coming after Dhawan and Sharma left, Kohli and Rahane carried India to an easy 8-wicket win.
William Porterfield won the toss and decided to bat first. In a burgeoning start, Porterfield and Paul Stirling slammed India’s pace trio of Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Mohit Sharma and of the 60 runs coming in the first 10 overs, 57 came from pacers. Ashwin got the ball in the tenth over and the effect was visible immediately. The Irish intent to push India on the back foot was effectively thwarted between the 10th and 32nd, when just 87 runs could be added. These 22 overs were completed in a mere 62 minutes to the utter surprise of the ground staff at Hamilton. India also sent Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce back to the pavilion. While there was no surprise in Ashwin entangling the batsmen in his web, Suresh Raina came up with an unexpectedly wonderful performance to yield just 40 off 10 overs with a wicket of Ed Joyce. However, Niall O’Brien and Andy Balbirnie amassed 61 in 7.3 overs to carry Ireland past 200 in the 39th over. Ireland would have liked to reach 300 but they kept losing wickets as Dhoni rotated his bowlers. India’s fielding was better than when they played the West Indies the other day and finally they restricted Ireland to 259 all out in 49 overs.
Coming on to chase 260, India began slowly to score just 23 off first 6 overs. Once Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma got the full measure of the Irish bowlers, they began opening out. Dhawan survived a sharp chance in the 7th over, when he chased an off-side ball but Porterfield couldn’t hold the catch. The 9th and 10th overs together produced 29 runs and India were 73/0 at the end of 10 overs. There was no looking back from there as Sharma and Dhawan continued until the 24th over, when Sharma tried to run down a Stuart Thompson delivery to third man and directed the inside edge on his stumps. Dhawan carried on in the company of Virat Kohli and completed his second century of CWC 2015. But immediately afterwards, he fell to Thompson in trying to loft him over the leg side field. At that point India required just 70 more for victory with more than 22 overs remaining. Kohli and Rahane didn’t have to take any undue risks as they steered India to an 8-wicket victory.