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Blaster O'Brien puts Irish on top of the world

Last updated on: March 3, 2011 10:41 IST

O'Brien demolished England's bowling attack



Ireland's Kevin O'Brien, who plays his cricket for the Railway Union Club, on Wednesday, stood head and shoulders above some of the sport's greatest names after guiding his country to one of the biggest World Cup shocks with victory over the old enemy England.

- Scorecard Images

The 26-year-old Dubliner almost single-handedly demolished Andrew Strauss's Ashes winners with comfortably the quickest ever century in the tournament, racing to three figures in 50 balls of pure smash and plunder.

Although he was out for 113 shortly before Ireland's moment of glory, their first win over England, by then the damage had been done and his team mates passed the massive 328 target with three wickets and five balls to spare.

No team has ever scored more to win a World Cup match batting second.

Image: Kevin O'Brien celebrates after reaching his century against England
Photographs: Getty Images

Finest One-day innings

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It will be long savoured by the scattering of Irish -- and even English -- fans privileged to witness it as one of the finest one-day innings of all time, never mind the 36-year-old World Cup.

It was a rare spot of bright news for the Irish, who last week kicked out their government over its role in the country's economic decline. Many Irish have never seen a cricket match, but that did not stop them celebrating.

O'Brien, who played a year's cricket with Nottinghamshire before returning to play full-time for the Railway Union Cricket Club in Dublin, had reached the crease when his team were all but finished as a threat to an England team chasing their second win of this year's tournament.

Image: Kevin O'brien celebrates with Nail O'brien after winning his match against England

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Start slogging

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As he explained later, at 111-5 and still a distant 217 runs from their target with almost half their 50 overs used up, there was only one thing for it for this brawny mid-order batsman and that was to start slogging.

So he did, to all parts of the ground with none of the English bowlers, who had so recently frightened the daylights out of Australia in Ashes, spared from the onslaught.

He brought up his century with no less than six sixes including one 102-metre smite over long on and 13 fours.

He needed 16 fewer balls than the previous swiftest, Australian Matthew Hayden, to complete his century and left a string of other cricketing master blasters from the past in his wake in the record books too including Indian Kapil Dev (72) and Adam Gilchrist (72).

Afterwards, O'Brien was still trying to make sense of it after John Mooney's winning blow for four in the final over off Jimmy Anderson.

"When you are 111-5 I just said to myself, we could just potter around and get 220 off 50 overs for eight or nine and the game would have been pretty boring to watch and it wouldn't have been anything to watch on TV," a grinning O'Brien said clutching his man-of-the-match trophy.

"I just chanced my arm and said I'm going to be as positive as I can and I got a few away and didn't look back really," he added.

Image: Kevin O'brien his a boundary on the leg side against England

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England's hopes now hanging by a thread

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The result more than matched another famous cricketing World Cup victory for the Irish in the last edition in 2007 in the Caribbean when they ousted the 1992 winners Pakistan in a huge shock in Jamaica.

Within hours of that result, the Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was found unconscious in his hotel room and pronounced dead later in a Kingston hospital, an event that cast a pall over the entire competition.

On Wednesday, Strauss, meanwhile, looked stunned with his team's World Cup hopes now hanging by a thread after a tied result against India and a close win over Netherlands.

They had made a more than respectable 327-8 with Jonathan Trott top-scoring with 92 off as many balls but that innings was long forgotten as O'Brien set to work.

Image: Matt Prior drops a catch during his match against Ireland

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'It was a great performance from Ireland'

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"Kevin O'Brien came in and chanced his arm and he played very, very well and hit some great shots," said Strauss.

"It was a great performance from Ireland. I'm not going to take anything away from them. They thoroughly deserved their victory. We've got to go away, lick our wounds and make sure we come back and play better."

His opposite number, meanwhile, Williams Porterfield, planned to celebrate with a "few quiet beers" a victory he described as the greatest in Irish cricket.

Most bars in Bangalore close around 2300 IST so they would not have much time to slake their thirst.

But Porterfield was probably correctly assuming that his countrymen in Dublin -- especially in the vicinity of the Railway Club in Sandymount -- would be celebrating long into a memorable sporting night for Ireland.

Image: Ireland players celebrate after winning their match against England

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