March 2nd 2011 is a date that will live in Irish sporting folklore, as Kevin O’Brien put cricket on the front pages in the emerald isle with a stunning win over England. His century from 50 balls in Bangalore was the fastest-ever in World Cup history.
England was carrying all the momentum after an exciting tied match with India as Tendulkar and Strauss traded tons to share the points in Bangalore. Ireland had handed Pakistan a shock defeat in the 2007 World Cup and progressed to the Super 8 Stage in their debut appearance. In 2011, they held great hopes for the event but were disappointed to lose their opening game despite being on top for much of the game against co-hosts Bangladesh.
The English Batsmen were on a roll, and despite a slowdown in the death, it posted a formidable 327 for 8 in Bangalore that to Trott & Bell's 177 run partnership leading the way. Few expected the Associate Member to cause an upset against their neighbours England, and Ireland looked to be staring down the barrel of a defeat especially when they lost half-way their wickets for just more than a hundred runs.
Kevin O’Brien with his hair dyed pink in aid of a charity – came in with Ireland floundering at 106 for 4, things only looking worse soon after at 111 for 5 in the 25th over when Gary Wilson fell LBW to Graeme Swann. But this was the man who had played his first ODI match against England in 2006, and taken the wicket of Andrew Strauss, the captain then, off his first-ever ball. It was obvious he had a liking for playing against the English and with his side
The boundaries rained down at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, starting from the second ball he faced. Standing by him was Alex Cusack, with whom O’Brien would share a 162-run partnership. Cusack would contribute a vital 47 and played the perfect foil to O'Brien and his fireworks.
The inspired Power Play that Ireland took at the start of the 32nd over added an invaluable 62, including one massive six over midwicket, and changed the nature of the game. O’Brien’s first fifty took 30 balls, his second only 20, having survived a dropped catch on 91. He then moved to 98 and within a shot of the fastest World Cup hundred, with a punch to the leg-side he quickly called 'two' to his partner
When he was run out in the penultimate over of the match, O'Brien had scored 113 in 63 deliveries, including 13 fours and six sixes. It was a innings of phenomanal power but also great composure as he timed the chase perfectly to leave Ireland on the brink of victory.
This is it, this is it, this is it!! Take a bow Ireland, what a game of cricket. England cannot believe, I can't believe it, Hussain can't believe it! Terrific Ireland, look at these scenes!
David Lloyd on Commentary calls the winning runs
What happened next:
When O’Brien got out, Ireland needed 11 runs from 11 balls. The formalities were completed with three wickets and five balls to spare for the highest successful run chase in the tournament to spark scenes of wild jubiliation in the Irish camp. O'Brien was of course named the Man of the Match and the name Kevin O'Brien was all of a sudden a household name across India.
Although Ireland did go out in the group stages, a close loss to the West Indies ending their hopes of a quarter final place, O'Brien ensured that in just their second World Cup appearance Ireland were once again the talk of the cricketing world.There was nothing unorthodox or flukey about it. If he had been wearing an Australian shirt we would have hailed O'Brien for playing one of the great one-day innings and that's how we should look at it now.
Nasser Hussain, writing in the Daily Mail March 3rd
“It would be my great honour and privilege to be able to tell the world two things. First that alive and well is the ‘bush telegraph’ in the humongous country of Australia and in particular in places we love to call ‘the outback’, and secondly to pass on my heartiest congratulations to young Kevin O’Brien for this amazing achievement."
Matthew Hayden, the previous record holder congratulates O'Brien on scoring the fastest century