India’s Hardik Pandya-led team got off to a victorious start, with the skipper and Deepak Hooda teaming for a 64-run partnership in the first T20I against Ireland at Malahide on Sunday (June 26). After a two-hour delay due to rain, the game was shortened to 12 overs.

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Ireland lost early wickets after being called to bat, but an outstanding counter-attack from Harry Tector, who hit six fours and three sixes in his undefeated 64 off 33 balls, saw the hosts finish with 108/4. India was 30/2 after losing Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav in quick succession. However, Hooda and Pandya swiftly took control of the game, with the former scoring an unbroken 47 off 29 to ensure India wins with 2.4 overs to go.

To set the tone for the pursuit, Ishan whipped, pulled, and sliced Joshua Little for four, six, and four in the first over. He was joined at the other end by Deepak Hooda, who had a slow start due to a lack of space, but Kishan kept the fight going as he guided Craig Young’s opening ball to the third-man boundary before hitting his second six with another draw. Young responded with a full delivery to bowl the left-hander and then snagged Suryakumar in front off his next ball, forcing India a review.

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It was an entertaining over, with 15 runs and two wickets coming when the bowler overstepped and Pandya blasted the free-hit for a four over mid-on. Hooda hit a four off a Mark Adair delivery and then tucked one over the inner boundary for his second four as the opening four overs yielded 45 runs.

The debut of offspinner Andy McBrine even against two right-handers paid off handsomely for India, as Pandya and Hooda combined for three sixes over long-on. Hooda’s pick-up shot for a six welcomed Ireland’s rookie Conor Olphert into the assault. Hooda reached the half-century mark in 28 balls, hitting a four off Little and guiding one over the keeper’s head for a boundary in the same over.

Pandya also hit a six against Little before being bowled out lbw. With only 15 runs needed in four overs, India comfortably completed the goal as Dinesh Karthik hit a four off Olphert and Hooda finished with two boundaries off Little.

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Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who soon found swing, dismissed Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie for a duck with an oncoming delivery. Gareth Delany was also greeted with an inswinger that rapped him in the pad, but India was denied a review as replays revealed that the ball was moving down. Hardik Pandya’s length delivery was lofted over point by Paul Stirling, but a bid to go over extra cover culminated in his dismissal.

Pandya ended up allowing 13 runs in the over, with Gareth Delany scoring quickly, including a four-ball drive through the off side. Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled another tight over, and Avesh Khan trapped Delany behind off an inside edge as Ireland finished the four-over powerplay at 22/3.

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Tector went after Axar Patel in the sixth over, cover-driving the spinner for two fours, one of which was aerial. He then hit a four-ball drive past mid-on and a sixer off debutant Umran Malik, who gave 14 runs in his only over, with four more runs following via leg-byes. Lorcan Tucker hit Pandya for two consecutive sixes after Yuzvendra Chahal had an efficient start. 

Tucker’s effort to slog-sweep Chahal ended in a catch to deep midwicket as the fourth wicket partnership reached a half-century stand. But Tector persisted, smashing a short ball from Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a four and a magnificent cover-driven six. Despite allowing 14 runs in his third over, Bhuvneshwar Kumar finished with 1 for 16, while Chahal conceded only 11 runs in three overs. In the final over, Tector hit a reverse-lap four off Avesh for a 29-ball fifty. He was also run out by Axar in the same over, allowing Tector to gain further runs when he hammered a six over cover and took a couple off the final ball of Avesh’s 17-run over.