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Gambhir, Ganguly steer India to easy victory
June 23, 2007 19:59 IST
Last Updated: June 24, 2007 13:34 IST
India warmed up for the long season ahead with a comprehensive nine-wicket victory over Ireland in the first one-day international in Belfast on Saturday.
Chasing a revised target of 171 from 39 overs, following a more than two-and-half-hour rain interruption, the Indians cruised through an unbroken century partnership between former captain
Sourav Ganguly [Images] and Gautam Gambhir and wrapped up the match with four overs to spare.
Ganguly played the guiding role to perfection with an unbeaten 75 while Gambhir went about the hunting task ably, scoring 80 not out. The unbroken stand between the two southpaws was worth 164 runs.
After restricting the hosts to a modest 193, the Indians helplessly watched inclement weather delay the start of their chase at the Stormont ground.
But there was no hint of frustration as they went after the revised target of 171 in 39 overs in a methodical manner.
Sachin Tendulkar's [Images] dismissal for four in first over did little to dent the visitors' determination as Ganguly and Gambhir put the Irish attack to the sword.
Earlier, rookie leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and left-arm seamer Rudra Pratap Singh produced tidy bowling spells as India restricted Ireland to a modest total.
Chawla, who made his ODI debut last month against Bangladesh, picked up 3 for 29 and his Uttar Pradesh teammate R P Singh grabbed 2-36 to help the visitors gain the upper hand.
Right arm pacer S Sreesanth [Images] also picked three wickets but was expensive, conceding 50 runs.
The Irish innings revolved around a defiant half-century by wicketkeeper-batsman Niall O'Brien, who struck a confident 52.
O'Brien, who hit four fours in his 77-ball knock, shared a vital 48-run stand for the seventh wicket with captain Trent Johnston to boost the scoreboard, which read a sorry 111-6 at one stage.
Johnston made a relatively quickfire 34 off 44 balls, including two hits over the fence.
Put in to bat, the hosts struggled to get going under overcast conditions.
Sreesanth provided the opening breakthrough, having Kenny Carroll caught behind when the batsman nicked a high delivery in the fourth over.
But the Indian bowlers failed to exploit the conditions as William Porterfield (16) and Dominick Joyce (18) added 33 runs for the second wicket.
Ajit Agarkar [Images] then castled Porterfield and Sreesanth accounted for Joyce.
Chawla then struck twice to reduce Ireland to 83-5.
The leg-spinner dismissed Kevin O'Brien (13) and Gary Wilson (3) in the space of nine balls.
Chawla, who had picked three wickets also in the only ODI he has played before, then sent back all-rounder Andrew White (8).
But the Indians failed to deliver the killer punch and allowed things to drift.
29 extras, including 16 wides, marked the visitors' casual approach.
Niall O'Brien, Ireland's hero at the World Cup, capitalised the slackness to earn his fourth half-century.
With Johnston providing some much needed urgency, the tail wagged long enough for Ireland to post a total to defend.
Earlier, Indian skipper Rahul Dravid [Images] won the toss and elected to field.
Dhoni suffered an unspecified injury while Zaheer is yet to recover fully from the groin injury he suffered in the Afro-Asian Cup.