Indian cricket team players during the 2nd IND vs IRE T20I match (Image: BCCI/Twitter)
Indian batsmen and bowlers were immense in their roles while giving their team a 33-run win in the second T20I and an inviolable 2-0 series lead over Ireland here on Sunday.
Once India erected a strong 185 for 5 after being asked to bat first, Ireland felt the heat while chasing and they were restricted to 152 for 8 despite a 51-ball-72 by Andrew Balbirnie.
India had won the rain-marred first T20I by two runs under the DLS method.
Fine hands by Gaikwad (58, 43 balls, 6x4, 1x6), Sanju Samson (40, 26 balls, 5x4 1x6) and Rinku Singh (38, 21 balls, 2x4, 3x6) moulded India’s charge with the bat.
But on a true pitch, Indian bowlers had to back their batsmen and they produced a superb collective spell under captain Jasprit Bumrah, Prasidh Krishna and Ravi Bishnoi, who grabbed six wickets between them.
Prasidh continued his impressive return to top of the shelf cricket as the pacer packed off Irish captain Paul Stirling and Lorcan Tucker in his first over to reduce the hosts to 19 for 2.
Leg-spinner Bishnoi castled Harry Tector with a googly, restricting Ireland to 31 for 3 in the Power Play segment.
Ireland's progress was made all the more difficult by the ever-climbing asking rate that often hovered around 12 and above.
But true to the Irish legacy, they fought bravely. Balbirnie was at the front of that mini fightback, making a strident fifty (71, 52 balls, 5x4, 4x6), before perishing to Arshdeep Singh.
His dismissal ended Ireland's faint hopes for a win and Mark Adair’s 15-ball 23providing a mere artificial excitement.
However, before the bowlers took over, India ruled the field through their batsmen.
They started the innings briskly through opener Yashasvi Jaiswal who made an 18 off 11 balls with a couple of fours and a six off pacer Josh Little.
(Team India players celebrate after a wicket in the second IND vs IRE T20I match / Image: BCCI/Twitter)
But the innings failed to build on the promise as Jaiswal’s attempt to pull Craig Young ended in the hands of Curtis Campher at deep.
Tilak Varma failed to make an impression in the second straight game, this time a mistimed pull off Barry McCarthy was snaffled by George Dockrell close to the ropes.
At 35 for 2, India needed some solidity and momentum. The visitors gained that through Samson and Gaikwad for the third wicket.
They milked 71 runs between them to carry India past the 100-run mark in the 12th over.
Samson, who has triggered selection discussions ahead of India’s squad announcement for Asia Cup 2023 on Monday, played a nice, little innings of 40 off 26 balls that contained five fours and a six.
Samson tore into Little in the 11th over, hammering him for 18 runs.
An inside-out loft over covers, a slap over covers and a guide through the cordon brought him three fours in a row.
He decorated that train of aggression with a swivel pull that fetched him a maximum over fine leg.
However, a moment of misfortune ended his stay. Samson wanted to play leg-spinner White over the covers off a wide ball on the off-stump, but he could only drag the delivery back on to his stumps.
At 105 for 3 in the 13th over, India had a good launchpad to get to a sizable total.
Gaikwad kept his end going steadily. It was an anti-thesis to usual the T20 cameos as he looked to build the innings around him.
The right-hander reached his fifty, second in T20Is, with a powerful pull off White.
However, McCarthy's slow ball drew curtains on Gaikwad’s innings. India were 129 for 4 then.
But India had a couple of big hitters in their ranks in Rinku Singh and Shivam Dube, and they showed their power-hitting prowess in the 19th and 20th over.
The penultimate over by McCarthy went for 22 runs with Rinku carting him for two sixes and a four, and Adair's final over produced 20 runs as India motored on.
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