India Ireland 2018
India trounced Ireland by 76 runs in the first T20I AFP

India beat Ireland the first T20 International of the 2-match series comfortably, by 76 runs. Ireland were pushed aside, first by Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (who added 160 for the first wicket, in 16 overs), and then by Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who took 7 for 59 between them. Ireland were poor on the field as well, dropping chances, and were utterly outclassed.

Little went wrong for India barring the fact that other than Dhawan and Rohit the other Indian batsmen did not even spend time at the crease. The Indian bowling attack boasts of two world-class wrist-spinners (Kuldeep and Chahal) and two seamers who can bowl beautifully in the Powerplay overs as well as in the death (Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah). Defending 209 was no challenge for them.

“We are using these two games to play everyone, and I have already told them that the guys who didn t play will get an opportunity in the next game,” Virat Kohli had announced after the first T20I. If he meant that literally, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Umesh Yadav, Washington Sundar, and the uncapped Siddarth Kaul may all play.

Given that Dhawan and Rohit are the only two Indians to have got some batting practice, they should be the ones to be rested. In that case Rahul may open alongside Kohli, who will be dying to have a go. The middle-order will stay intact (though Kohli has hinted at experimental reshuffling the way he did on Wednesday).

The warm, almost Indian climate offered assistance to the Indian spinners. India may play three spinners instead of two. Sundar is a handy batsman, and may replace Pandya. The two seamers will come in as like-for-like replacements.

India likely XI for 2nd T20I: KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Washington Sundar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Siddarth Kaul, Yuzvendra Chahal.

There is little Ireland can do to turn things around in a span of two days. Ireland put up the best they had, which was still not good enough to compete with India. Perhaps they may try cutting down on the all-round front and add specialists to their ranks.

Given the success of the Indian spinners, Ireland may play Andy McBrine to go with George Dockrell. Of course, this is India, and the ground isn’t the largest, but it’s a risk worth taking. Batting at seven (just above the wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter), Stuart Thompson serves little purpose. He went for 2-0-31-0 in the first T20I. The other option is seamer Joshua Little, who can be brisk but will be an even bigger risk on the small ground.

Ireland may also go in with William Porterfield to strengthen the batting-order, but a strike rate of 110 over all these years should go against him.

Ireland likely XI for 2nd T20I: Paul Stirling, James Shannon, Andy Balbirnie, Simi Singh, Gary Wilson (c), Kevin O Brien, Stuart Poynter (wk), Andy McBrine, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin, Peter Chase.

Predictions: Nothing is likely to change at Malahide. India are striving to become the top-ranked T20I side in the world, while Ireland languish at the bottom of the 17-team table. No, a change in outcome will definitely qualify as a major upset.