Despite the absence of a number of frontline players, and Harry Tector’s sprightly 29-ball half-century in a 12-over shootout, India romped to victory in the first T20I on Sunday. Rain is forecast for Tuesday, too, but India will hope that the weather holds up as they look to test out their bench strength once again, in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in Australia this October.
Tearaway Umran Malik had a tepid international debut, spraying the ball around in his only over, which cost 18. Tector drove a half-volley through mid-on for four and then hooked a 145kph bouncer for six. Deepak Hooda, though, seized his chance in his first-ever shift as a T20 opener, hitting an unbeaten 47 off 29 balls. Hooda is among the most dynamic middle-order batters in the IPL, and on Sunday, in place of Ruturaj Gaikwad, he proved that he could slot into the top order as well.
As for Ireland, they need a more stable base than 22 for 3 from their top order. Paul Stirling could be hit or miss in swinging conditions, so the onus is on Andy Balbirnie and Gareth Delany to see off Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s opening spell.
Josh Little and Mark Adair were punished for bowling too short with the new ball, and Craig Young admitted that Ireland missed their lengths.
“None of us are quite [Bhuvneshwar] Kumar, we haven’t got the skills them boys have but we are lucky that we know Malahide quite well and we know the lengths to bowl, albeit we don’t always hit them straight away,” Young said after the first game. “Again, you can’t go too full because they’ll blast you over your head, you’ve got that small margin. We got the line right a lot of the time, but the length is what let us down.”
A better powerplay with both bat and ball for Ireland could somewhat narrow the gap between the two teams.
Ireland LLWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Ahead of the two-match T20I series, Ireland captain Balbirnie was particularly wary of the threat posed by Yuzvendra Chahal, hoping the conditions wouldn’t be too conductive to spin. The Malahide track offered more swing than turn on Sunday, and Chahal needed three sweaters to deal with the chill, but he still bowled a boundary-less three-over spell. His 1 for 11 was the most economical spell on the evening.
When Conor Olphert came into the attack in the seventh over of India’s chase, the game was all but up. Hooda shovelled his first ball in international cricket for six, and he only had a peripheral role on debut. However, his heavy lengths and bounce are a crucial part of new coach Heinrich Malan’s plans for the home summer, which also includes visits by three other Full Members – New Zealand, South Africa and Afghanistan.
Though Curtis Campher is a tempting option with his allround skills, Ireland will likely retain the XI that challenged India at some points.
Ireland (probable): 1 Paul Stirling, 2 Andy Balbirnie (capt), 3 Gareth Delany, 4 Harry Tector, 5 Lorcan Tucker (wk), 6 George Dockrell, 7 Mark Adair, 8 Andy McBrine, 9 Craig Young, 10 Josh Little, 11 Conor Olphert
If Gaikwad isn’t fit, India could hand a debut to Tripathi or recall Sanju Samson. Harshal Patel will miss out once again, if India give Malik another game or bring in Arshdeep Singh.
India (probable): 1 Ishan Kishan, 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad/Rahul Tripathi/Sanju Samson, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Deepak Hooda, 5 Hardik Pandya (capt), 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Axar Patel, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Avesh Khan, 10 Umran Malik/Arshdeep Singh 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Pitch and conditions
Intermittent showers on Sunday meant the ball didn’t quite come onto the bat as it often does in Malahide. If rain stays away, the pitch might favour the batters.
Stats and trivia
Ireland have played four T20Is against India and have lost all of them.
Bhuvneshwar has picked up a record 34 wickets in the powerplay in T20Is. He surpassed Samuel Badree (33) and Tim Southee (33) on Sunday.
Tuesday’s fixture will be Young’s 50th in T20Is.
“He played some fantastic shots, and obviously he’s 22, and I’ve given him a bat as well. So maybe he can score some more sixes and maybe get an IPL contract and I wish him luck.”
India and IPL-winning captain Hardik Pandya is impressed with Harry Tector
“Our lads were good enough. We came up against a very, very good team and went toe-to-toe with them for a good 80-85% of the game. We just need to find that extra bit on Tuesday.”
Craig Young counts Ireland’s positives