The general consensus was that Ireland will offer much more resistance than they did in the first Twenty20 International on Wednesday (June 27) but there was no regressing to the mean for the hosts as they were crushed by 143 runs in the second and final game of the series by India in Dublin on Friday.
It was India's biggest win in T20Is which also helped them claim the two-match series 2-0. The 106-run second wicket association between KL Rahul (70 off 36) and Suresh Raina (69 off 45) followed by Hardik Pandya's blitzkrieg (an unbeaten 9-ball 32) set the tone for the visitors who scored in excess of 200 for the first time in consecutive games. In the end, India got 213 for 4 on the board, their fourth highest T20I total.
The contest was dead with barely the second innings power play gone as Ireland lost half their side just 39 balls into the innings. The twin wrist spinners - Kuldeep Yadav (3 for 16) and Yuzvendra Chahal (3 for 21) - proved too hot to handle for the Irish batsmen yet again as they were sent packing for a paltry score of 70 in 12.3 overs, which was also their second-lowest T20I score and the second shortest innings in the history of T20Is.
Rahul, who came in for Shikhar Dhawan for this game, made the most of the sparse opportunity and looked in imperious touch the moment he made his way out to the middle. He lifted Simi Singh, the offspinner, over the infield twice in the very first over to make his intentions clear. Virat Kohli, Rahul's opening partner, wasn't his usual self but it didn't deter Rahul, who used the pace of Boyd Rankin and slapped him over fine leg for the first of his six colossal sixes in the fourth over. Raina walked in at No. 3 and had two sixes - at either side of the pitch - against his name only six balls into his innings.
Both got stuck into the pedestrian bowling attack of the hosts as India raced past the 100-run mark in 10 overs. While Rahul took 28 balls to get to his fifty, Raina took 34. Seeing his regular bowlers going for plenty, Gary Wilson, the Irish captain, summoned part-timer Kevin O'Brien (3 for 40) in the 13th over. He proved to be a handful and saw the back of Rahul off his very first delivery when the opener handed him the simplest of return catches. He struck again two balls later when he sent Rohit Sharma, who batted at No. 4 today, back on his way for a blob.
But Raina kept the scoreboard ticking even as Manish Pandey struggled to find his rhythm. The left-hander fell in the 18th over, leaving Pandya with only 15 balls to play with. He clobbered as many as four sixes - all to different parts of the ground - to take 36 runs from the last two overs and helped India finish the innings on a high.
Umesh Yadav (2 for 19) was slippery and got the new ball to shape away, which brought the downfall of Paul Stirling, caught at first slip by Raina, off only the second ball of the innings. He struck again in his next over, the final one for the day for him, when he cleaned up William Porterfield (14), who was guilty of walking too far across his stumps. Siddharth Kaul, the debutant, then struck in the next over when he bowled a heavy ball which James Shannon could only slice to the cover fielder.
After the initial jitters, Ireland were up against the craft and quality of Kuldeep and Chahal. Kuldeep, in particular, gave the ball a good rip and got a lot of purchase from the wicket, sneaking through the gate twice. Chahal started his wicket-tally with a delivery which would have done Shane Warne proud when he castled Andy Balbirine in his first over. The ball pitched on middle stump but turned a long way to beat the bat of Balbirine and hit the top of the off stump. He went on to pick two more wickets, taking his series tally to six wickets while Kuldeep ended with seven.
India have covered most bases and look ready for the England series which will kick off in Manchester next week. For Ireland, they need to improve quickly for they looked totally out of depth against one of the best teams in the world.