Zaheer takes four wickets as India thrash Ireland

Nottingham, June 11:Zaheer Khan claimed four wickets as India routed Ireland by eight wickets in the concluding Group A match of the World Twenty20 at Trent Bridge here Wednesday.

Zaheer (4-19), who is coming back from a shoulder injury, ripped through the Irish top order, taking three wickets from just seven balls to restrict Ireland to 112 for eight in the rain-shortened 18-over-a-side match.

Chasing the meagre total, Gautam Gambhir (37) and Rohit Sharma (52 not out) batted with caution, adding 77 runs from 65 balls for the opening wicket.

Both the strokemakers were unusually calm as they looked to build a partnership.

Gambhir’s 37 came in 31 balls and included three fours and one six before he got out to Regan West.

Sharma, who is having a good stint as an opener replacing the dangerous Virender Sehwag at the top, played 45 balls and knocked four fours and one six.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni came in after the fall of Gambhir’s wicket and thrashed Kyle Mccallan for a cracking four, but was caught while attempting another big shot in the bowlers’ next over.

Yuvraj Singh (3) and Sharma completed the formalities with 15 balls to spare.

Ireland, who had defeated Bangladesh to advance to the Super Eight stage, could not reprise that performance.

At one point, they were struggling to post 100 runs on the board as they were reduced to 48-5 in the 10th over. But Andrew White top scored with 29, while Gary Wilson and John Mooney contributed 19 each to bring some respectability to the score.

After Ireland was put in to bat, Jeremy Bray became Zaheer’s first victim, bowled by a stinging yorker. William Porterfield went next, edging Zaheer’s delivery to Yusuf Pathan at first slip. Andre Botha was out in the same over, also caught by Pathan.

Ojha (2-18) then bowled Kevin O’Brien while Harbhajan Singh rattled Gary Wilson’s off stump and Ireland looked in serious trouble.

The lower order added vital runs to take them past 100 runs.

The Super Eights will start Thursday.