Wed, Mar 11, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Dhawan hits ton as India claim fifth straight victory

AFP, HAMILTON, New Zealand

Ireland’s Alex Cusack bowls against India in their World Cup Pool B match at Seddon Park in Hamilton, New Zealand, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Shikhar Dhawan hit an aggressive century as defending champions India recorded their fifth victory in a row at the World Cup with a thumping eight-wicket win over Ireland in Hamilton, New Zealand, yesterday.

Chasing a modest 260-run target, Dhawan notched his second century of the tournament with an 85-ball 100 as India lost only two wickets in only 36.5 overs on a batting-friendly Seddon Park pitch.

The latest victory meant India, yet to lose at the World Cup and already into the quarter-finals, were guaranteed to finish on top of Pool B ahead of their last group game against Zimbabwe in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Ireland will likely need a win against Pakistan in their last pool match in Adelaide, Australia, on Sunday to reach the last eight.

“We have put in a lot of yards in the last few weeks. It is all about being fresh for Pakistan. If you can’t get up for these games you won’t be up for any,” Ireland captain William Porterfield said.

Pakistan, Ireland and South Africa, who all have six points from five matches, will vie with the West Indies (four points) for the three remaining quarter-final spots on offer from Pool B.

“Our bowlers are really doing the job for us, they’ve stepped up — not just the three fast bowlers, the spinners are complimenting them and when we’ve used part-timers they’ve done well,” India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.

Ireland’s Niall O’Brien scored a run-a-ball 75, while Porterfield made a solid 93-ball 67 in Ireland’s 259 all out in 49 overs.

India proved their strength in batting yet again as Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (64) put on their team’s best World Cup opening stand of 174 against a struggling Ireland attack.

Dhawan, who stroked 137 in the win over South Africa, completed his eighth one-day international century with a single off Kevin O’Brien to square-leg. He reached three figures off just 84 balls.

However, one ball later Dhawan fell to a loose shot off Stuart Thompson. In all, Dhawan hit 11 fours and five sixes.

Rohit was dismissed when he played on to Thompson after hitting three sixes and as many fours off 66 deliveries.

India’s previous best opening stand in a World Cup was the 163 shared by batting great Sachin Tendulkar and Ajay Jadeja against Kenya at Cuttack, India, in 1996.

Virat Kohli (44 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (33 not out) wrapped up the chase with a 70-run unbeaten stand for the third wicket to give Dhoni his ninth straight win in the World Cup, a run that started with the team’s march to the 2011 title on home soil.

Australia’s Ricky Ponting holds the record for the most consecutive World Cup wins as captain with 24, while Dhoni and Clive Lloyd, who led the West Indies to victory in the first two editions in 1975 and 1979, have nine apiece.

Earlier, Ireland failed to capitalize on a good solid start.

Batting first after winning the toss, Ireland were 89 without loss after 15 overs, with Paul Stirling (42) giving good support to skipper Porterfield.

Stirling hit four fours and two sixes during his 41-ball knock, before holing out to off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who finished with two for 38.

Part-timer Suresh Raina bowled Ed Joyce for 2, before Porterfield and Niall O’Brien added a valuable 53 for the third wicket.

However, once Porterfield fell, caught off paceman Mohit Sharma, Ireland slumped from 206-3 to 259 all out in 49 overs.

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