By: Express News Service | February 10, 2015 9:25 am
Bangalore, March 3, 2011
There were just a handful of true-blue Irish supporters in the Chinnaswamy Stadium stands when Niall O’Brien trotted from the dressing room and into Trent Johnston’s arms. As Irish flags waved feverishly in a few energetic hands, Team Ireland collected in the middle of the field after completing one of the most dramatic chases in the history of one-day cricket, triggering off a set of celebrations that will surely take a few days to douse in both Bangalore and Dublin.
Watching the celebrations, Kevin O’Brien screamed a content man. After all, it isn’t everyday that one scores the fastest century in World Cup history (50 balls) and also help set the record for the highest chased target (328) in cricket’s flagship event.
For a team that isn’t considered good enough to play Test cricket, O’Brien and the Irish boys had done good, the upset coming at the cost of their high-profile, Ashes winning neighbours, England.
111/5 to 329/7
The story of this dramatic chase (their first win this World Cup) and O’Brien’s second ODI hundred (first in the quadrennial event) began when he walked in at No.6, with Ireland tottering at 106 for 4. They slipped further, to 111/5 needing an almost impossible 217 runs from 154 balls left at that point. That was when the edition’s biggest turnaround began as O’Brien, in the company of Alex Cusack, put together a record 162-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
O’Brien was dropped once in his 90s, but except for the rare blemish, didn’t put a foot wrong despite being forced to attack every ball. It didn’t matter whether the delivery was short, full or even back of the length. The result was the same everytime, as O’Brien kept launching them into the top tier of the empty stands, one as far as 102 metres.
Eventually, he ended with 13 fours and six sixes, keeping Ireland’s head above the waters. O’Brien quietened down after reaching his century, letting John Mooney take over the reins. Although O’Brien was run-out in the 49th over with Ireland still 11 runs away, Mooney completed the mother of all upsets.