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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Abhishek Sharma- who ? ~ Irish men who debuted prior to Ireland

IPL – 16th over against RCB – Mohammed Siraj finally got Shreyas Iyer – in walked a young Abhishek Sharma and instantly became a hero hitting 46 off mere 19 with 4 sixers !  - those regularly following young Indian’s fortunes perhaps would remember him well.  Abhishek first came into the limelight with a century on Under-19 debut for Punjab in the Vinoo Mankad Trophy. Acquired by Daredevils for INR 55 lakh ($85,000) at the IPL auction in January, he is among three players in their squad from India's U-19 World Cup-winning side, apart from Prithvi Shaw and opener Manjot Kalra.

Way back in  2015 - Ireland sprung a surprise beating West Indies by 4 wickets in Nelson  - then came the celebrations – Peel  a banana, mash a banana, throw a banana, and let’s go bananas!” – the man,  Adrian Raftery  a university lecturer in Australia, teaching taxation. During World Cups, he lived out as ‘Larry the leprechaun’: donning  a long hat, sticking a fake beard and behaving in exuberant manner.   A leprechaun  is a type of fairy of the Aos Sí in Irish folklore. They are usually depicted as little bearded men, wearing a coat and hat, who partake in mischief.  He would have sat worried as the Irish hour of becoming the 11th Nation to play Test Cricket was delayed due to overnight rains. 

The teams went to lunch without a ball bowled in the grounds of Malahide Castle, just north of Dublin.  Read elsewhere that though Ireland is yet to play test cricket,  11 Irishmen have already  played Test cricket,  the first one for Australia in the very first Test in 1877.  Fast bowler Boyd Rankin, who achieved his Test ambition for England in 2014 and returned to Ireland in 2016, is part of the golden generation of Irish cricketers who have been rewarded with places in the first Test squad.  They also  include 39-year-old Ed Joyce, Kevin and Niall O'Brien, Gary Wilson and captain William Porterfield.

William Porterfield won the toss, had no hesitation in fielding first and the battery of Ireland’s seam bowlers looked to make hay, charging in from either end and drawing audible gasps from those who had come to witness history. Boyd Rankin, who had previously taken one wicket in a lone Test appearance for England before switching back to his native country, was the man to make the breakthrough, becoming Ireland’s first wicket-taker in the five-day format. With the last ball of the eighth over, Rankin drew Azhar Ali forward with a good-length ball, forcing the outside edge and Porterfield made no mistake at second slip. And it quickly became double delight as, from the very next ball, 13 for one became 13 for two when left-hander Imam-ul-Haq was trapped in front by Tim Murtagh with a delivery which nipped back.

Earlier, Ireland's inaugural men's Test got off to a dramatic start when Pakistan debutant Imam-ul-Haq was injured on the first ball. Azhar Ali dug out a single off the opening delivery from Tim Murtagh and called for a quick legside single. Non-striker Imam, in scrambling to complete the run, found himself sandwiched between wicket-keeper Niall O'Brien and Tyrone Kane in a heavy collision. The 22-year-old left-hander was left flat on the ground and needed several minutes' treatment on the field. He did recover and face his  first ball, the second of the match, from Murtagh with Imam, who had had a cold press applied to the back of his neck, playing and missing before he saw out the remainder of the over at a sunny Malahide. Imam is the nephew of Pakistan selection chief and former Test batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq and his inclusion in the squad provoked allegations of nepotism.

Back home, off the 56 – the match between DD and RcB is 45 and the field is still open for some teams to squeak through.  According to ESPNcricinfo's calculations, the teams placed below the top two will all stay in contention for playoff spots if they manage to hit 12 points. That means even Delhi Daredevils are not completely out of it yet. But the path to 12 points - they'll have to win all three of their remaining games - will be filled with nerves, calculations and uncertainty. Even if they manage it, they aren't assured a place.

Today - Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bowl on the ground where Delhi Daredevils haven't beaten Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last five meetings. Daredevils brought in two teenagers: Nepal legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane, and India Under-19 allrounder Abhishek Sharma. They also handed a debut to Junior Dala, who replaced Liam Plunkett. That meant that nearly half of Daredevils' XI was under 24 years old.  Sixty-five runs off the final 5.5 overs,  and that was possible to that grand innings by the young Abhishek Sharma – would love to see more of him, expectantly at a higher level donning the Nation cap.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th May 2018.

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