# Meltdown
Ireland wilt in the heat as ruthless India show no mercy to seal series win
Graham Ford’s side narrowly avoid their heaviest-ever Twenty20 defeat at Malahide.

Ryan Bailey reports from Malahide 

THIS WAS NOT an Irish performance befitting of the occasion, as a lamentable batting collapse provided another harrowing reminder of just how far they have fallen in Twenty20 cricket.

William Porterfield is stumped out by Umesh Yadav Tommy Dickson / INPHO William Porterfield is clean bowled. Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

For future reference, you could put this game in as the dictionary definition of ‘one-sided’, and if you were to stretch things by labelling it a contest, it would be very generous to Ireland.

Granted there is an unquantifiable gulf in resources and quality between Ireland and India, but the second-highest defeat in Twenty20 history — 143 runs — pretty much sums up how this match went, as the visitors flexed their considerable muscle, showed no mercy and sealed the most comfortable, and nondescript, series win you can think of.

If you were to look for positives, at least the weather made this idyllic ground a picture and a full-house of 8,500 seemed to revel in the glorious Friday evening sunshine. From there, you’re clutching at straws.

For Ireland, it’s hard to decipher what they’ll take from two heavy losses, because this week only confirmed what was blatantly obvious anyway — they have fallen a long way behind the eight ball and show no sign of working out how they’re going to catch up.

There is no disgrace in conceding 213/4 to an Indian batting line-up with so much firepower, but whatever the conditions, whatever the circumstances and whatever the opposition, there isn’t really a whole lot to be said when you’re bowled out for 70 inside 12.3 overs in reply.

Ireland’s innings was the third-shortest in T20I history as India’s spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal combined to take six wickets and suffocate the middle and lower-order.

Graham Ford’s side needed two runs by Boyd Rankin to get past their lowest-ever T20 total of 68 against West Indies eight years ago. It was that kind of day.

Gary Wilson bowed his head for the entirety of the post-match presentation, the Ireland captain struggling to muster the words to describe a no-show from his side, as they lost for the 19th time in their last 27 completed matches in this format.

“We shouldn’t have rolled over like that,” he said.

From the moment Paul Stirling slashed at a wide one to be caught at first slip in the first over of Ireland’s abject batting display, there was an inevitability about it all with three of the top seven falling for ducks.

Wilson top-scored with 15, William Porterfield briefly led a semblance of a fightback with a booming six over the hospitality tent and Stuart Thompson added 13 when the game had long been decided.

Kevin O'Brien is caught out Tommy Dickson / INPHO Kevin O'Brien fell for a duck. Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland struggled to get the ball off the square and inject any sort of momentum into their chase, which always seemed a mission impossible from the off, before the wickets tumbled and the inevitable was confirmed.

Ranked 17th below teams such as UAE, Hong Kong and Oman is an indication of how far Ireland have slipped in the shortest format and when Wilson spoke pre-series about finding a spark, they certainly didn’t find it here.

A period of soul-searching will follow ahead of a white-ball series against Afghanistan in August, which will provide more of an accurate litmus test for the hosts as to where they are ahead of the World Twenty20 qualifiers in 18 months.

“I do honestly believe we have enough to put together a strong qualifying campaign,” Wilson added, trying to focus on what’s ahead as opposed to the horror show that had just unfolded.

The post-match debrief won’t be pretty, but change is required if Ireland are to become competitive against the big teams on grand occasions like this, because it’s all well and good having further opportunities, but there needs to be progression in the performances.

It didn’t take much for Ireland’s batting frailties to be exposed again as they floundered in the face of a potent Indian attack, who needed little invitation to tear through the hosts and send their supporters away happy.

It felt more like Delhi than Dublin, the majority inside Malahide decked head-to-toe in blue, and giddy with excitement at the chance to see their exalted heroes up close.

They need little excuse to cheer — or just shout and wave in unadulterated delirium as if it is some form of purification — but the Indian batsman, led by Lokesh Rahul and Suresh Raina, whipped all four corners into hysteria.

Ireland pushed and probed, but ultimately toiled in the searing heat, as Rahul and Raina showed pure disdain with a bludgeoning and brutal onslaught which powered the visitors to back-to-back scores of 200+ for the first time in T20 cricket.

Such was the relentless nature of their 360 degree shot-making, the crowd were reminded to keep an eye on the ball at all times for their own safety.

Forget protocol, they said, this was utter carnage from start to finish.

Lokesh Rahul hits a six to break a half century of runs Tommy Dickson / INPHO Rahul hit a fluent half-century. Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

India’s comfortable win on Wednesday meant they felt there was more than enough margin to experiment, and in making four changes, promoted captain Virat Kohli up the order to open the innings.

His early dismissal — caught brilliantly by George Dockrell in the deep off Peter Chase — gave Ireland initial hope, but that was as good as it got for Ford’s side, as India’s power, superiority and class told in every facet.

Rahul smashed 74 and Raina 69 as they dismantled the Ireland bowling attack, who didn’t help their own cause by conceding 12 wides before leaking 39 runs in the last two overs of the innings.

Kevin O’Brien showed good control in bowling his military medium and was rewarded with three wickets, although that only allowed Hardik Pandya open up and clobber 32 off just nine balls at the death.

Save for Dockrell and O’Brien, Ireland’s bowling figures made for distressing viewing, with Wilson’s decision to insert India upon winning the toss on a good pitch and lightening-fast outfield questionable at best.

It hinted at a lack of confidence and conviction within the Irish batting order, and left them vulnerable. So it proved, as India took full advantage.

Twenty20 international, Malahide:

India 213/4 (Rahul 70, Raina 69, Hardik 32*, K O’Brien 3-40)
Ireland 70 (Kuldeep 3-16, Chahal 3-21, Wilson 15)

India win by 143 runs, and win two-match series 2-0. 

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