T20 World Cup: Rohit, Pant knocks steer India to easy eight-wicket win over Ireland

New York:  Captain Rohit Sharma top-scored with 52 before retiring hurt with a sore elbow, while Rishabh Pant remained unbeaten on 36 as the duo steered India to a comfortable eight-wicket win over Ireland in their first Group A game of the Men’s T20 World Cup at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium here on Wednesday. Everything went right for India from the time they elected to bowl first on a bowler-friendly pitch which had some variable bounce too. The fast bowlers, led by Hardik Pandya’s 3-27, dominated thoroughly by picking eight wickets collectively to bowl out Ireland for 96 in 16 overs. In reply, Rohit and Pant hung around to begin their campaign with a win by completing the chase with 46 balls remaining and getting their eighth successive victory over Ireland in men’s T20Is. With the pitch doing all sorts of tricks, India decided that controlled aggression would be the right way to go about a low chase. For Ireland, it was about latching on to the smallest chances coming their way to try to make a match out of it. It became a bit tough when Andrew Balbirnie failed to hold on to a tough chance at second slip when Rohit threw his bat at a wide outswinger from Mark Adair. Rohit was lucky to have an inside edge off Joshua Little for four, followed by dispatching a full toss over long-on for six. But Virat Kohli fell in the third over, as he sliced a short and wide ball to deep third man off Adair. Pant, making a comeback in international cricket after nearly 17 months, was off the blocks by smashing a full ball from Adair down the ground for four. Rohit then used the pace of Little to slice over a backward point for four, as India ended Power-play at 39/1. With strike-rotation going steady, it made life easier for India as Pant hit Barry McCarthy for a straight four, while Rohit pulled Little for consecutive sixes and then swiped an Adair full-toss through vacant deep mid-wicket region for four to bring up his fifty in 36 balls. But shortly after, Rohit retired hurt on 52 due to a sore elbow caused by a previous blow sustained off Little. Pant took two blows off Little, including on the left elbow, before pulling a short ball for six. He smashed Ben White through extra cover for four, though the leg-spinner had Suryakumar Yadav holing out to deep mid-wicket. Pant finished off the chase in style with an astonishing trademark reverse paddle-scoop over the keeper’s head for six to be 36 not out in his comeback international game and get India’s campaign in the tournament off to a flying start. Brief scores: Ireland 96 all out in 16 overs (Gareth Delany 26; Hardik Pandya 3-27, Jasprit Bumrah 2-6) lost to India 97/2 in 12.2 overs (Rohit Sharma 52, Rishabh Pant 36 not out; Ben White 1-6, Mark Adair 1-27) by eight wickets –

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