T20 World Cup: Rohit Sharma hits half-century as India stroll to easy win over Ireland

Captain guides team to eight-wicket victory with rivals Pakistan next up

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Rohit Sharma scored a half-century as India beat Ireland by eight wickets in their Group A game in New York at the T20 World Cup on Wednesday.

Rohit scored 52 off 37 balls before retiring hurt, while Rishabh Pant added 36 not out off 26 balls, as India easily reached 97-2 to finish off the chase in 12.2 overs.

Victory was all but secured for India when they dismissed Ireland for just 96 as a drop-in pitch of variable bounce at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, built specially for the tournament, again proved tough to bat on.

Ireland needed to hold every chance that came their way to have any chance of a shock upset. But off the last ball of the first over of the chase, Rohit – on two – edged Mark Adair through the hands of Andrew Balbirnie at second slip.

The India captain punished Ireland with his innings, including four fours and three well-struck sixes as he shared a stand of 54 with Rishabh Pant.

Rohit, who passed 4,000 runs in T20 internationals and 1,000 in World Cups during the match, was particularly eye-catching in striking Josh Little for back-to-back sixes.

Wicketkeeper Pant, returning to international cricket after a horror car crash in December 2022, ended the match with a typically flamboyant reverse-scooped six off Barry McCarthy as India won with more than seven overs left.

Rohit was not there alongside him, however, having been previously struck on the arm by Josh Little, although he struck the two balls he faced immediately afterwards from the paceman for resounding sixes. “Just a little sore,” said Rohit afterwards.

Star batsman Virat Kohli fell for just one, slicing Adair to deep third man, but it made little difference to India, bidding to win a first major tournament since their 2013 Champions Trophy triumph.

Earlier, all-rounder Hardik Pandya took 3-27 as the Indian pacers made good use of the bowler-friendly conditions.

Jasprit Bumrah picked up two wickets for six runs in three overs, while left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh had 2-35. In all, India’s pacers took eight of the 10 wickets to fall as Ireland were routed for 96 all out in 16 overs.

Only four Ireland batsmen reached double figures, Gareth Delany top-scoring with 26 before he was run out as the innings ended in the 16th over.

“When you come here and the ball is seaming around with some bounce and pace, I would never complain,” said Bumrah. “You have to be proactive, you can't pre-empt things.

“You realise how the wicket is and then go back to what works for you. Once the seam goes down the pitch does settle down. You have to be prepared to bowl in all conditions, so very happy today.”

India's joy in dismissing Ireland cheaply would have been tempered by the thought they too could be batting first on a similar surface when they return to the ground on Sunday to play arch-rivals Pakistan in the showpiece match of the group phase.

“I don't know what to expect from the pitch but we will prepare as if conditions are going to be like that,” added Rohit ahead of taking on their fierce rivals.

“That will be a game where all XI of us need to come together and contribute. It was scratchy but good to spend time in the middle, hopefully we can do the same.”

Updated: June 05, 2024, 6:26 PM