A terrific opening partnership by Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan and some smart bowling by the spinners helped India to go 1-0 up in the T20I series against Ireland at the Malahide Cricket Club Ground here on Wednesday.
Winning the toss and putting India to bat first on a bright sunny day, Ireland were guilty of bowling inaccurate lengths, as the openers took advantage on a pitch good for batting.
Rohit and Dhawan shared a 160-run partnership and clobbered fours and sixes all around the ground. India raced to 59 for no loss in the powerplay (six overs).
The openers continued to make merry with their batting onslaught, amid a couple of dropped catches from Ireland and smashed 13 fours and 10 sixes between them respectively.
Rohit narrowly missed out his third T20I century by just three runs, when he was bowled by pacer Peter Chase, while attempting to play a slog shot.
Despite losing a cluster of wickets towards the end, India raced to 208 for 5 in their stipulated 20 overs, setting Ireland a tough target of 209 runs to win.
Chase was Ireland’s best bowler, scalping four wickets for 35 runs, while all-rounder Kevin O’ Brien chipped in with a wicket.
In reply, Ireland never looked comfortable chasing the target as the wrist-spinner duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal bowled tight lines and made the ball to turn occasionally to make life tough for the Irish batsmen.
Ireland kept on losing wickets at regular intervals, as India restricted them to 132 for 9 in 20 overs.
James Shannon top-scored with 60, while other batsmen – O’ Brien (10), Stuart Thompson (12) and Andy Balbirnie (11) were the only one to have double figures to their names.
While Kuldeep (4 for 21) and Chahal (3 for 38) shared seven wickets, pacer Jasprit Bumrah scalped 2 for 19.
In the process, Kuldeep attained his best T20I bowling figures and was awarded the Man of the Match for the same.
The two sides will again face at the same venue in the second and last T20I of the series on Friday.