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Nick Royle (Times Ireland)

India canter to victory

India cantered to a 76-run victory over Ireland in Wednesday's Twenty20 international at Malahide Cricket Club.

Ireland fell well short of India's total of 208-5 from 20 overs, despite a fighting 60 from 35 balls from opening batsman James Shannon.

Gary Wilson's side, ranked 17 out of 17 countries in the ICC T20 world rankings, were outclassed but kept on fighting to the end, batting all 20 overs to finish on 132-9.

The India supporters in the crowd made it a joyous occasion, cheering every run and waving their flags after every boundary.

They had plenty to cheer, too, as Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan put on 160 in just 16 overs, the India opening pair's highest partnership in T20 cricket and the fourth-highest opening partnership of all time in T20 international cricket.

Their only disappointment was the decision of Virat Kohli, the India captain, to drop down the order to protect a neck injury ahead of a long summer tour of England.

Kohli is idolised in his own country and respected across the globe for his achievements in all three formats of the game.

Ireland-based India fans, who made up the majority of the 9,400-strong capacity crowd, had travelled from all over the 32 counties to see him in action.

Kohli was down on the scoresheet to come in at No 3, so there was a palpable sense of deflation in the ground when Suresh Raina stepped out of the pavilion after Dhawan finally fell for 74 off 45 balls.

But Raina did not last long, dismissed for 10 top-edging a Peter Chase delivery to Kevin O'Brien at square leg.

As Raina walked off, the chants from the 5,000 India fans in the stands grew more insistent: "Kohli, Kohli, Kohli".

But it was not Kohli striding out next into the Dublin sunshine, but the No 7 shirt of MS Dhoni, his predecessor as captain of the national team and the man who led India to 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup glory.

It was like waiting all day for Messi, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to walk out instead.

Without missing a beat, the crowd started chanting the name of Dhoni instead.

He did not disappoint, his first shot a magnificent flamingo pull off the hips for four, and soon followed up with a clubbed six over the sightscreen off the bowling of Boyd Rankin.

When Dhoni was dismissed off the first ball off the final over, the decibel levels rose again, but still there was no sign of Kohli.

Rohit was on strike on 97 with five balls of the innings remaining, time enough to complete his third T20 international century, but Chase, the Leinster Lightning and Ireland fast bowler, had other ideas.

He bowled Rohit off the second ball, and finally Kohli made his way to the crease.

He missed the first ball, a Chase bouncer, then slogged the next delivery straight into the hands of Stuart Thompson on the deep midwicket boundary.

Chase, 24, is still a fully-paid up member of Malahide Cricket Club and lives within walking distance of the ground.

He has plenty of years left as an Ireland cricketer, but when he finally retires and becomes the old man at the bar regaling the youngsters about his glory years, the tale of the time he took 4-35 against India and the wickets of Dhoni, Rohit and Kohli in the same over will take some beating.

Aerial view of Malahide during the match
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