Ireland stun England in record chase

March 2: Four years ago, when Ireland shocked Pakistan in the World Cup, it was dismissed as a fluke. On Wednesday, the talented and persevering bunch of Irish cricketers shook up the 2011 tournament with a sensational three-wicket victory over bitter rivals England,

In one of the greatest triumphs in world cricket, but unfortunately in front of a near- empty M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, the encounter was no less than a Hollywood thriller, as the Irish, having allowed England to run up 327/8, chased it down in outstanding fashion through Kevin O’Brien’s blistering century to sail home at 329/7 with five deliveries to spare.

Without doubt, it was the highest chase ever in World Cups. Also without doubt, Kevin’s 49-ball hundred was the fastest in Cup history before he eventually fell for 113 in 63 balls (13x4, 6x6). It was also the sixth-best all-time in ODIs. Coming in at No. 6 with the Irish struggling at 106/4, the burly right-hander bamboozled Andrew Strauss’ Ashes-winning bowlers, who were hammered all around the park.

In an electric show of hitting of raw power, Kevin raced away to his hundred with some huge sixes while adding 162 for the sixth wicket with Alex Cusack (47, 58b) to stun the English.

When Cusack got out, the Irish still needed 56 and John Mooney, who had grabbed 4-63 in the afternoon, capped a great night with an unbeaten 33 off 30 balls while adding 44 with O’Brien in just 28 balls. With 11 needed from 11 balls, Kevin’s slight hesitation saw him being run out to a Tim Bresnan throw. But Mooney and Trent Johnston stayed calm under extreme pressure to power their team to an incredible victory.

Earlier, having chased down huge targets in the last two games, much depended on the in-form Strauss (34, 37b) to set up a commanding total. A destructive Kevin Pietersen (59, 50b, 7x4, 2x6) took charge against the medium pacers, scoring most of the runs on the on-side while Strauss gave him able support.

It looked like the Irish were out of ideas until the promising left-arm spinner George Dockrell gate-crashed the 91-run stand. Strauss moved across his stumps and found the ball dislodge his stumps, off his pad. The free-flowing Pietersen, attempting a reverse sweep, top-edged off-spinner Paul Sitrling to’keeper Nial O’Brien to make it 111-2.

With a solid foundation, it was the duo of Jonathan Trott (92, 92b, 9x4) and Ian Bell (81, 86b, 6x4, 1x6), who stole the show smashing an entertaining 167-run (156b) for third wicket. A goof-up between Trott and Bell almost saw the exit of the former but Kevin threw to the wrong end to reprieve the batsman. Capitalising on that mistake, Trott surpassed West Indian legend Vivian Richards’ record of fastest 1000 runs in ODIs.

Trott fell short of a deserving hundred as medium-pacer Mooney (4/63) rattled his stumps with an off-cutter. Also, Johnston’s (2/58) late double strikes made him Ireland’s highest wicket-taker.

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