Kevin O’Brien scored the fastest Cricket World Cup century to lead Ireland to a three-wicket win over England in one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s 35-year history.
O’Brien reached 100 in 50 balls and totaled 113 as Ireland, which rarely plays against cricket’s elite teams, chased down England’s 327-8 with four balls to spare in Bangalore, India. O’Brien and Alex Cusack shared a 162-run stand to set their team on the way to the highest successful World Cup run chase.
“I’m pretty speechless at the moment,” O’Brien, who plays for English team Northamptonshire, said in televised comments. “To be honest, it’s the best innings I’ve ever played since I started playing cricket. I just kept going and kept believing and it went our way.”
Ireland’s first win in four attempts against England lifts it into 10th place in the International Cricket Council’s one-day rankings and leaves the English with three points from as many games as they seek a first World Cup title.
England, whose only win so far was against the Netherlands, remains in second place in Group B. Ireland moves up to fifth after two games. The top four from each of the two groups advance to the quarterfinals after a round-robin competition.
Ireland next plays group leader India on March 6, while England plays South Africa the same day.
The South Africans play their second game today against the Netherlands in Mohali, India, while 1992 champion Pakistan faces Canada in a Group A match in Colombo.
England’s Jonathan Trott reached 1,000 one-day runs on his way to making 92. He was supported by Ian Bell, with 81, and Kevin Pietersen’s 59. Their efforts weren’t enough as the green-shirted Irish celebrated on the field at M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
O’Brien beat the previous record for the fastest century, held by Australia’s Matthew Hayden, who reached triple figures in 66 balls against South Africa at the last tournament, in the West Indies in 2007. Ireland’s successful chase eclipses Sri Lanka’s 313-7 against Zimbabwe in 1992.
Ireland was 111-5 when Cusack joined O’Brien in the middle. He scored 47 in 58 balls and kept O’Brien company as the 26-year-old tore into the English bowlers.
“I was just trying to knock it around for Kev because he’s got the power,” Cusack said. “He’s got the big shots.”
O’Brien struck six sixes and 13 fours in his 63-ball innings.
England captain Andrew Strauss bemoaned his players’ efforts in the field. Catching chances off O’Brien, who was eventually run out, and Cusack were missed.
“Our World Cup dream is not over, but we’ve been hemorrhaging runs too quickly,” Strauss said. “We’ve got to go away, lick our wounds.”
The tournament, co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, ends April 2.