India’s imperious start to the World Cup continued with a comfortable eight-wicket win over Ireland in their Pool B encounter at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
Ireland made 259 all out batting first, but that was nowhere near enough as the defending champions chased down that total with more than 13 overs to spare. Shikhar Dhawan led India’s run chase with an 85-ball 100, while his opening partner Rohit Sharma made 64.
Virat Kohli (44 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (33no) then saw their side – who had already qualified for the quarter-finals before this match – to a ninth successive World Cup win, dating back to their triumph over West Indies in 2011. Niall O’Brien top-scored for Ireland with 75, with useful contributions too from openers William Porterfield (67) and Paul Stirling (42) en route to a respectable total – India dismissing their opponents for the fifth straight match at this tournament.
Ireland, still vying for a quarter-final spot of their own having notched wins over West Indies and Zimbabwe, came into the game needing victory against either India or Pakistan to advance, and looked well set after captain Porterfield opted to bat first and went on to share a solid partnership of 89 with Stirling first up. Their stand was broken in disappointing style from the final ball of the 15th over, when Stirling, having made his runs off 41 balls including four fours and two sixes, looked for a big hit off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin but checked and succeeded only in scooping a simple catch to Rahane at long-off.
Ed Joyce did not stick around for long, contributing just two before having his middle stump knocked over by Suresh Raina. Porterfield, having notched his first half-century of the tournament, survived a scare in the 31st over when Mahendra Singh Dhoni missed a stumping opportunity, but the reprieve did not last long as in the next over he chipped a straightforward catch to Umesh Yadav at mid-off, Mohit Sharma the bowler.
Andy Balbirnie joined Niall O’Brien in the middle and contributed a run-a-ball 24 before looking for one sweep too many and top-edging Ashwin to Mohammed Shami. That left Ireland still reasonably well placed on 206 for four with 11 overs remaining, but from then on the wickets tumbled. Kevin O’Brien (one), Gary Wilson (six), Stuart Thompson (two) and George Dockrell (six) all came and went, with Niall O’Brien’s dismissal also thrown into the mix making for a spell of five wickets for just 32 runs as India seized control.
John Mooney (12 not out) and Alex Cusack (11) added 21 for the final wicket before the latter’s departure signalled the end of the Ireland innings. In reply, India raced to 100 in the 13th over, although Ireland will be kicking themselves they did not remove Dhawan who was dropped on five by Mooney off his own bowling and then on eight by Porterfield.
Rohit Sharma was the first to fall for 64 after chopping onto his leg stump off of Thompson, but Dhawan made the most of his let-offs and raced to his his eighth one-day international century off just 84 deliveries having struck 11 fours and five sixes. He lasted just one more delivery though, trying to hit into the leg side he spooned one to Porterfield off Thompson. Despite losing two quick wickets, the game was still in India’s control with the holders on 190 for two. And victory was never in doubt as Kohli and Rahane saw their side home.