Kevin O'Brien roars with triumph after bringing up his 50-ball century

Associate this with us: Kevin O'Brien celebrates the record for the fastest World Cup hundred

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Greatest World Cup matches: No. 8

KO'd by KOB

An Irish victory over England looked impossible - then Kevin O'Brien happened

Peter Della Penna  |  

England v Ireland - group stage, Bangalore 2011

Ireland won by three wickets

What happened
After they narrowly fell to Bangladesh in their opening match of the tournament, not much was expected from Associate qualifier Ireland against a far stronger Full Member team like England. Especially not after England posted 327, meaning Ireland would need to complete the highest successful chase in a World Cup to win. Obviously not after Ireland captain William Porterfield dragged the first ball of the chase onto his stumps. Absolutely not after Ireland were reduced to 111 for 5 four balls before the halfway mark of their innings.

But Kevin O'Brien carved out a place in World Cup lore by making the impossible happen with an epic, record-breaking 50-ball century. By the time he was run-out in the penultimate over for 113, Ireland needed 11 off the final 11 balls. John Mooney sealed a legendary victory by clipping the first ball of the final over off James Anderson to the midwicket rope.

Why it was great
Sporting pink hair in support of a cancer fundraiser, O'Brien showed early on that he had nothing to lose by slogging a series of lusty blows against England's spinners. A decision to take the batting Powerplay at the start of the 32nd over sent the shock-and-awe ambush into overdrive, culminating in a savage strike off Anderson over midwicket on the final ball of the 35th: the shot carried 102 metres. O'Brien eventually bettered Matthew Hayden's record for the fastest World Cup century by a staggering 16 balls.

When Mooney struck the winning runs, Ireland proved that their maiden World Cup win, over Pakistan in Jamaica in the previous edition of the tournament, had been no fluke. Six years after this 2011 win, they secured Test status.

They said
"I remember looking up at the board and I was 80 off 40 balls. That's the first time that it really dawned on me that, 'What have I done?' I had no recollection of what went on for the previous 40 balls. It was actually quite surreal to be out there."
- Kevin O'Brien on Ireland's Finest Hour, Sky Sports

The Greatest World Cup Matches: No. 10 | No. 9 | No. 7 | No. 6 | No. 5 | No. 4 | No. 3 | No. 2 | No. 1

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna