Kevin’s blazing century inspires historic Irish win (Intro Roundup)

March 3rd, 2011 - 1:15 am ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, March 2 (IANS) Kevin O’Brien blasted the fastest 2011 World Cup century to inspire a historic Irish win over neighbours England in a record chase at the Chinnaswamy stadium here Wednesday.

Kevin struck a whirlwind 63-ball 113 as Ireland recovered from 111/5 to achieve the massive target of 328 with five balls to spare and three wickets in hand at a stadium that three days before was overflowing with fans when England fell one short of a world record chase to tie with India with the score of 338.

It was Ireland’s maiden win in their fourth encounter against England, with whom they share great rivalry in football and rugby.

The Ashes champions were shoddy with their bowling and pathetic with their fielding, dropping four catches, after their top order fired in unison to score a mammoth 327 for eight. Jonathan Trott (92) and Ian Bell (81) stamped their authority, setting up the big total.

England captain Andrew Strauss, who turned 34 Wednesday, wicketkeeper Matt Prior, James Anderson and Michael Yardy all spilled chances that should have been taken.

Ireland, who had knocked out Pakistan four years back, lost their captain William Porterfield to the first ball after he dragged onto his stumps a wide delivery from James Anderson.

Paul Stirling (32), Ed Joyce (32) and Nial O’Brien (29) failed to soak in the pressure and departed after getting a good start.

It was then left to the 26-year-old Kevin, who has never made a fifty in nine previous World Cup innings, to turn the match on its head with some powerful hitting that comprised 13 fours and six sixes.

Kevin, younger brother of Nial, got a life on 91 after he was dropped by England captain Adrew Strauss and reached his maiden century in 50 balls, 16 less that Australian opener Matthew Hayden set in 2007 against South Africa.

Kevin and Alex Cusack (47) kept Ireland in the hunt with their 167-run stand for the sixth wicket. Although Kevin was run out in the penultimate over, John Mooney (33 not out) held his nerve and smashed the first ball of the last over for a four, as Ireland achieved 329, to spark celebrations in the Ireland camp.

Earlier, electing to bat, Strauss (34) and Kevin Pietersen (59) gave a good start with a 91-run opening stand in 13.3 overs. For Ireland, medium pacer John Mooney took four wickets for 63 runs.

England, after their gripping last-ball tie against India, played with confidence. Strauss, who struck 158 against India Sunday, stroked two fours and a six in his 37-ball knock while Pietersen smashed seven fours and two sixes in his 50-ball innings.

Strauss and Peitersen scored at a quick pace before left arm spinner George Dockrell bowled Strauss. Pietersen fell to off spinner Paul Stirling.

Trott and Bell added 167 runs for the third wicket and both were poised to make centuries. Trott, when on 64, joined his compatriot Kevin Pietersen and West Indies great Viv Richards as one of three batsmen to reach 1,000 one-day international runs quicker than anyone else.

Bell, who hit six fours and a six, became Mooney’s first victim. Trott went for a big heave against Mooney only to lose his stumps. Paul Collingwood (16) and Matt Prior (6) took the score past 300.

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