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SK Flashback: Ireland stun England at World Cup 2011 on the back of a Kevin O'Brien storm

ANALYST
Feature
235   //    16 May 2019, 17:50 IST

England continued to provide the thrills at the 2011 World Cup. What might have been a breeze against neighbours Ireland turned into a tornado, but not for the Irish. The 'minnows' were absolutely brilliant, neither overawed by the large target nor the big rival.

At first it all went as per the script though. Andrew Strauss (34) and Kevin Pietersen were off to a flying start, notching up 91 in 13-and-a half overs. Pietersen, having sped to his half-century and smashed his second six, fell to the reverse sweep.

It was then that Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell combined in a tremendous partnership. They worked the ball around deftly, interspersed by the regular boundary. Bell departed for 81, the pair having put on 167 in 26 overs.

Almost predictably, Trott was castled not long after, unable to reach his maiden World Cup hundred. His run-a-ball 92 contained 9 boundaries.

Kevin O’Brien stunned England with the fastest hundred in the World Cup
Kevin O’Brien stunned England with the fastest hundred in the World Cup

As medium-pacer John Mooney struck a purple patch, England lost wickets in their bid to pile on the runs. They eventually finished at 327 for eight, with Mooney grabbing four for 63 in his 9 overs.

The target, was beyond the capability of the Irish part-timers. Or so it appeared.

There was seemingly immediate confirmation as the left-handed skipper William Porterfield inside-edged the first delivery on to his stumps. A few sparks followed, as the young Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce, the latter of whom had appeared for England in the previous World Cup, allied in a partnership of 62 in quick time.

Graeme Swann then got amongst the wickets, and Ireland found themselves precariously perched at 111 for five after 24.2 overs.

Big and bold Kevin O’Brien, now partnered by Alex Cusack, then decided to take matters into his own hands. The red-haired O’Brien struck Michael Yardy for two fours in the next over, and Graeme Swann for two sixes in the following one.

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The message having been conveyed to the opponents, Cusack too began finding the boundary. O’Brien was now in a different orbit, smashing all the bowlers to the fence and over it.

The scoreboard began racing. Having battered Yardy in the previous over, O’Brien crashed a short one from James Anderson for his third six, racing to his fifty off a mere 30 balls. He then turned his attention to Tim Bresnan, bludgeoning a four and a six on the off-side.

Ireland had caught up with their rivals. Anderson was still on, and runs still came in a torrent. O’Brien blasted him for two boundaries and a huge six, reckoned to be the biggest of the tournament at 102 metres.

When O’Brien hammered Bresnan for a consecutive boundaries, he had sped to 90 off 42 balls with 12 boundaries and half-a-dozen over it. Predictably, he registered the fastest hundred in the World Cup from just 50 balls, beating Matthew Hayden’s record by 8 deliveries.

Cusack was run out for 47 in a game-changing partnership of 162 spanning just 17.1 overs, a staggering run-rate of nearly nine-and-a-half. Mooney then proved equal to the task, but the tiring O’Brien lost much of the strike, and got run out for a tremendous 113 off 63 deliveries, having fired 13 fours and 6 sixes.

It easily one of the greatest innings ever seen in the showpiece event. He had carried his side to the cusp of an exhilarating win.

Just 11 runs were required at one per ball. The experienced Trent Johnston caressed his first delivery to the boundary. With three needed off the last over, Mooney hit the first ball for a four to mid-wicket, jubilantly returning undefeated with 33 off 30 balls.

It was a stunning upset, the highest triumphant run chase in the World Cup. The elated O’Brien revealed, “Myself and Cussy (Alex Cusack) took a chance with the Powerplay and it paid off.”

It certainly did.           

England 327 for eight wickets (50 overs), Ireland 329 for seven wickets (49.1 overs)

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