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India thrive on imperfect pitch as Ireland find no fairytale in New York
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India thrive on imperfect pitch as Ireland find no fairytale in New York

Whatever game the teams are ­playing out here in New York City, it surely isn’t the same one they have in the Indian Premier League. India beat Ireland by eight wickets on Wednesday, in a match that included all of 193 runs. Which is just a little more in two innings than teams were averaging in one during the IPL season just gone. So, after two matches and four innings in New York, the fans here are still waiting to see a team make as many as a hundred, never mind one of the individual players. So far the top score is Rohit Sharma’s 52, off 37 balls.

“When you look at T20 cricket you want to see runs, and boundaries, don’t you?” complained Ireland’s coach Heinrich Malan afterwards. “When you play a game you want the best surface you can get and unfortunately what we’ve seen over the last couple of games hasn’t lived up to that.” India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour agreed that “it was a challenging wicket”.

Wicked would be another word for it, especially when bowlers as good as India’s quicks are using it. The ball reared and kicked and jagged and spat and seamed and stopped; one would shoot through shin high, the next would soar over the batter’s head.

Even if everything undoubtedly became a little easier when Ireland’s medium-pacers were bowling, India’s batters still had plenty of trouble timing the ball.

Sharma missed as many as he hit – the stats show he was in control of only half the shots he played. The main difference was that when he caught hold of one, it carried all the way over the boundary.

For all the talk about what a refreshing change it is to see bowlers be in charge, it’s all beginning to feel a bit like throwback cricket.

Teams are making the same sort of Victorian scores they were running up here in 1844 when the batsmen managed a top score of 14 in the very first international match between Canada and the USA. Dress Virat Kohli and the rest up in stovepipe hats and they could bill the games as reenactment matches.

Ireland’s Josh Little is bowled by India’s Jasprit Bumrah during Wednesday’s game in New York.View image in fullscreen

Ireland had a gruelling morning commute in from Brooklyn, and batted like they hadn’t had time for their morning coffee. Arshdeep Singh dismissed both openers in his second over, when Paul Stirling became the first of four batters caught off the top edge, and Andy Balbirnie was clean bowled trying to glance a ball that nipped away from him.

Singh’s next over lasted 10 balls, including four wides. There was a delivery that reared off a length that nearly ripped the thumb clean off Harry Tector’s right hand. By the end of the power play, Ireland were 26 for two, eight of them in extras.

It got worse. India brought on Jasprit Bumrah, of all bowlers, and he had Tector caught with a short ball that ricocheted off his glove and helmet.

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At the other end, Hardik Pandya picked off three batters in nine balls, including Curtis Campher, who slapped 12 off eight balls. Barry McCarthy went the other way, and ground out a six-ball duck, which was sealed, in the end, by Axar Patel’s superb diving catch off his own bowling. That dismissal left Ireland 50 for eight in the 12th over.

Gareth Delaney and Josh Little managed to haul the total up towards three figures by heaving a few down the ground, but even so the innings was dead long before the death overs. And the idea that India would have much trouble running it down lasted about as long as it took them to rattle off 22 from the first two overs. Kohli, pushed up to open, was caught at deep third in the next over, but Sharma and his new partner Rishabh Pant pressed on in a 50-run partnership for the second wicket.

Sharma eventually retired hurt, holding his shoulder. Perhaps he wrenched it hitting a couple of mighty sixes. “BACK-TO-BACK BOMBS!” the announcer shouted over the PA as the second one sailed into the stands. Which was more like the game the International Cricket Council has been trying to sell the locals on the adverts downtown and around the ground.

The ICC must be worried that the Federal Trade Commission is going to bring an advertising standards case against it if the cricket carries on like this.

Source: theguardian.com