Yuvraj sinks brave Ireland
Yuvraj Singh delivered a fine all-round performance as India survived a minor scare to record a five-wicket win over Group B rivals Ireland at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
After shocking England in their previous fixture, which took place at the same venue, Ireland raised hopes of another upset when they reduced their hosts to 100 for four in pursuit of 208.
However, Yuvraj shared a partnership of 67 with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to ease Indian nerves and the left-hander finished unbeaten on 50 as victory was secured with four overs to spare.
Yuvraj had earlier claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in one-day internationals to turn the match back in India’s favour after Ireland had recovered from a shaky start to reach 122 for two in the 27th over.
Captain Will Porterfield top-scored with 75 and shared 113 for the third wicket with Niall O’Brien, who fell four runs short of a half-century.
But Yuvraj then succeeded where India’s senior spinners had failed, returning figures of 5-31 as Ireland stumbled to 207 all out in the 48th over.
Dhoni said: “Though they scored only 207 they made it look like 240 with their fielding. The Ireland bowlers put every batsman under pressure."
Porterfield said: “An extra 40 runs would have made the match interesting. We got ourselves in a great position after losing two early wickets, until the run-out of Niall O’Brien."
For the third match in succession, Virender Sehwag struck a boundary from the first ball of India’s innings as he punched a back-of-a-length delivery from Boyd Rankin through the covers.
Sehwag did not enjoy the same success from Trent Johnson’s first delivery, however, as a leading edge provided the veteran with a simple return catch.
Johnston struck again in his third over when a lazy shot from Gautam Gambhir picked out Alex Cusack at short fine-leg.
The third-wicket pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli took few risks as they rebuilt the innings with a partnership of 63, which came to an end when the former was trapped lbw by George Dockrell for 38 as he attempted to sweep a flighted delivery.
Dockrell was denied a second wicket as wicketkeeper O’Brien spilled an edge from Kohli, but the batsman failed to make the most of his reprieve and was run out for 34 in the next over following a mix-up with Yuvraj, who sent his partner back to the non-striker's end.
Yuvraj and Dhoni edged India towards their target thereafter, although neither was at their fluent best as Ireland kept the scoring rate in check.
Dhoni fell for 34 when he was hit on the back leg by the impressive Dockrell and adjudged lbw, but his departure merely hastened Ireland’s demise as Yusuf Pathan raced to 16 from his first five deliveries with some lusty blows off the teenage spinner.
Yusuf finished unbeaten on 30 and hit the winning runs immediately after Yuvraj had brought up his half-century, from 75 balls.
Zaheer Khan had earlier picked up wickets in his first two overs - and was also unfortunate to see Porterfield dropped at second slip by Yusuf - after Dhoni had elected to field first.
Paul Stirling was bowled for a first-ball duck by a beautfiul inswinging delivery and Ed Joyce got an inside edge through to Dhoni as he prodded forward to a length delivery outside off stump.
India were unable to fully capitalise on their early breakthroughs and both Porterfield and O’Brien gradually grew in confidence as their innings progressed, with the former launching Piyush Chawla over midwicket for six in the 17th over.
Chawla remained expensive, conceding 56 runs from eight wicketless overs, and the leg-spinner was subjected to boos from the crowd during a dismal 10-ball over containing two wides and two no-balls.
Porterfield moved to 50 in that over with a crunching cover-drive, but O’Brien perished soon after as his captain looked to steal a quick single. The alert Kohli swooped to his right before releasing the ball and, although his throw was a little wide, Dhoni showed great skill in collecting the ball and swiftly removing the bails.
Yuvraj took centre stage thereafter and had Andrew White caught behind before Kevin O’Brien provided him with the simplest of return catches.
The slow left-armer struck again with the first ball of his seventh over as Porterfield slapped a loose delivery straight to Harbhajan Singh at cover.
John Mooney and Cusack were then trapped lbw by Yuvraj, with reviews going in India’s favour on each occasion, and Zaheer returned to remove Dockrell before Munaf wrapped up the innings with the wicket of Johnston.