The Ireland squad have arrived in India and must prepare to be involved in a runs feast, probably for the remainder of this World Cup.
While 205 was enough to win (or, in Ireland’s case, lose) their opening game in Bangladesh, that is the sort of total which teams are aiming to reach with 15 overs remaining in India — and certainly in Bangalore, if yesterday’s titanic game between the hosts and England is anything to go by.
There were 676 runs in the M Chinnaswamy Stadium after Graeme Swann hit the last ball of the match for a single to produce only the fourth tie in World Cup history.
Worryingly, Ireland’s nearest Test neighbours are their next opponents at the same venue on Wednesday as they attempt to rescue their World Cup campaign after the batting debacle against Bangladesh on Friday.
England also threw away the chance of maximum points yesterday with a horrible batting collapse with the winning post in sight, much like Ireland did so dramatically against the Tigers 48 hours |earlier.
When captain Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell were together, England were, incredibly, coasting to their mammoth victory target of 339, needing just 58 from 45 balls with EIGHT wickets left. But first a cramped-up Bell lobbed one up to mid-off and next ball man of the match Strauss was beaten by a superb yorker from Zaheer Khan for a magnificent 158.
Suddenly, the no-longer capacity crowd was on its feet roaring on their home favourites and Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior, Michael Yardy and Tim Bresnan could not stand the heat as England slipped to 325 for eight at the start of the last over, to be bowled by Munuf Patel.
Still the drama wasn’t over as Ajmal Shahzad hit the third ball for six to leave England requiring five runs from three deliveries.
They could manage only a bye, a two and a single to ensure a tied game for the second successive World Cup — the last being Ireland’s game against Zimbabwe in Jamaica. Strauss’s innings, the highest by an Englishman in a World Cup — beating Dennis Amiss’s 137 in the first tournament back in 1975 — was also his highest one-day international score and it was so good it left the great Sachin Tendulkar’s |(pictured) 47th ODI century in the shade.
At halfway, it looked as if his 120, from 115 balls with 10 fours and five sixes, would win the game at a canter for India — it was, after all, the highest ever total at Bangalore. But even the first man to hit five World Cup hundreds — Suarav Ganguly, Ricky Ponting and Mark Waugh had also made four — was, on the day, out-trumped by Strauss.
Both umpires played a major role in the day’s events. Off the last ball of the first innings, Marais Erasmus spotted Munuf failing to ground his bat — the short run which was to eventually cost India victory — and Billy Bowden controversially allowed Bell to stay in the middle despite Hawkeye showing the ball, which Bowden had given not out, going on to hit the stumps. He refused to change his mind because the ball made contact with the pad more than 2.5 metres from the stumps.
Bell was 17 at the time; he went on to make 69. At least it allowed this match to reach the thrilling conclusion it deserved.