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Ireland v India

The history between the two cricket nations in eight chapters by Ger Siggins.

27 June 2018; James Shannon of Ireland and MS Dhoni of India in action during the T20 International match between Ireland and India at Malahide Cricket Club Ground in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The rivalry

These games are the latest renewal of a cricketing relationship that dates back well over a century and has changed in many ways since an Irishman and an Indian first met on a cricket field.


Jewels in the Crown

In the late 19th century Ireland was part of the UK, and thus thousands of Irish administrators, soldiers and others were sent to India to work on the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Victoria’s empire. And they took to sub-continental cricket with gusto.

The first Irishman to appear in Indian first-class cricket was Reggie Poore, born in Frascati House in Blackrock, now a shopping centre. Poore, who later captained England, turned out for Europeans against Parsees in the annual Bombay Presidency tournament in 1892. He made 7, although he did make a century against the same side in 1895. Twenty-six Irishmen played in Indian domestic cricket but the only other to make a century was rugby international Walter Cullen, who made 79 and 120 against Muslims in the final of the 1927 Bombay Quadrangular.


A chilly welcome

While the Irishmen were baking in the hot sun of the Raj, similarly adventurous Indians were cooling their bones on tour to Europe. The first All-India side to visit these shores came in 1911, playing 23 games, of which 14 were first-class. They thrashed Ulster in a two-day game at Ormeau (Indians 324, Ulster 26 and 65). Palwankar Baloo – who took 114 wickets on the tour – took 5-9 and 3-6 as the game ended 40 minutes into the second day.

The Indians travelled to play Woodbrook, the club set up near Bray by Sir Stanley Cochrane of C&C fame. This was a lot more competitive, the hosts making 278 and 231; the visitors, 255 and 219.


A royal student tour

Iftikhar Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi, is an enormous figure in Indian cricket history – he played Tests for England on the Bodyline tour of 1932/33, and for India in England in 1946.

As a student in Oxford in 1929 he gathered a strong side including another future Test player Syed Nazir Ali. The Catamarans, mostly comprising Indians, Sri Lankans and West Indians of Asian descent, came to Ireland in July for three fixtures. They lost to Ireland in a three-day game with Nazir Ali taking 11-88, and also lost to Phoenix. Against a strong WP Hone’s XI at College Park, Pataudi scored an unbeaten 233, which is still the ground record.


A new Test nation

When India returned in 1936 they were a Test nation on their first full tour of England, and came over to play Ireland at College Park between the first and second Tests. Despite conceding a first innings lead India won by ten wickets.

They returned to Dublin in 1952 and won by an innings and nine runs, with Vijay Manjrekar scoring 88 and Polly Umrigar 62. Leg-spinner Sadashiv Shinde, father-in-law of former ICC president Sharad Pawar, took 8-74.

In a second game, at Ormeau, Dattu Phadkar scored a century, and after Shinde took 5-35 Ireland were asked to follow on. An unbeaten 41 by opener Louis Jacobson helped the hosts to hang on for a draw at 68-8.

The famous spin trio of Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan were a big draw when the sides next met at Castle Avenue in 1967. Chandu Borde made 114, and it needed two declarations to set a target of 154 which India chased for the loss of four wickets.


Deepening friendship

You can read about the games played in 1982 and 1986 elsewhere in this programme, with the Downpatrick match the closest Ireland has come to victory, losing by just nine runs. Arising out of the 1982 visit, the BCCI invited the Irish Cricket Union to send a team to tour India early the following year.

By the end of November the Irish Times was able to announce there was a “green light” for the tour with the BCCI ratifying a programme of fixtures. The ICU invited over former England test player, Raman Subba Row, to talk to the players about what to expect in India.

However just two weeks before they were due to fly out, Ireland’s players were told the tour was off and new attempts would be made to reschedule for the following winter. Sadly, that did not happen either and Ireland have yet to play India in India, except at ICC events.


Ireland on the rise

At the 2007 ICC World Cup Ireland beat Pakistan and Bangladesh and qualified for the Super Eights. That summer, showing remarkable ambition, the ICU organised a mini-tournament involving India and South Africa at Stormont.

Against India, Ireland were dismissed off the last ball for 193, with Niall O’Brien the only one to make a 50. Despite debutant Roger Whelan bowling Sachin Tendulkar for 4, Saurav Ganguly (73no) and Gautham Gambhir (80no) saw India home by nine wickets.


The world stage

Over the next decade, Ireland continued to make a strong case for elevation by ICC. At the World Twenty20 in 2009, current chairman of selectors Andrew White top scored with 29 but 112-8 was never likely to be enough against India, who won by eight wickets thanks to a Rohit Sharma fifty.

They next met in Bangalore in the 2011 World Cup, four days after Ireland’s famous win over England. William Porterfield (75) and Niall O’Brien (46) helped Ireland to 207, and teenaged George Dockrell took the prize wickets of Tendulkar and MS Dhoni, but Yuvraj Singh (5-31 and 50no) saw India to a 5 wicket win.

And at the 2015 World Cup. Ireland made 259, again thanks to Porterfield (67) and Niall O’Brien (75). But India won by eight wickets with 14 overs to spare thanks to a century by Shikar Dhawan.


Meeting as equals

Ireland were finally elevated to ICC Full Membership in June 2017, and twelve months later India came to play two twenty20s in Malahide. India won both by large run margins but the large crowd was cheered by local hero Peter Chase, who picked up the scalp of Virat Kohli in both games.