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Ireland open World Cup campaign by toppling West Indies

Phil Simmons’ side chased down 305 to beat the two-time World Cup winners.

John Mooney was on hand to hit the winning runs.
John Mooney was on hand to hit the winning runs.
Image: PHOTOSPORT/Chris Symes/INPHO

Updated 07.10am

EIGHT YEARS AFTER Jamaica and four years after Bangalore, Ireland’s cricketers once again showed their propensity to rub shoulders, and beat, the big boys as they blew the 2015 World Cup wide open with a sensational victory over West Indies in Nelson.

Set a taxing 305 to win at the Saxton Oval, Ireland romped to victory with more than four overs left in the bank as half-centuries from Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce and Niall O’Brien underpinned a masterly chase to defeat the two-time World Cup winners.

After a defiant century from Lendl Simmons – the nephew of Ireland coach Phil – dragged the West Indies from the brink of submersion to a position of ascendancy at the half-way stage, it had seemed Ireland’s chance had gone.

But, in front of a capacity crowd, the majority of whom were sporting green, Ireland kept in tune with the required run-rate and as the pitch flattened and the opposition toiled, picked off the runs with, dare it be said, considerable ease.

A late wobble – during which Ireland lost four wickets – took some of the gloss off the scoreboard but, in fitting fashion, John Mooney, just like he did against England in 2011, hit the winning boundary to seal another memorable win.

The result now means Ireland need just two more victories from their remaining five Pool B games in order to progress to the quarter-finals.

Source: Star Sports/YouTube

Ireland became the first team to bat second and win at this year’s World Cup as Stirling (92) and Joyce (84) put on a match-defining stand of 106 for the second wicket to take the sting out of any potential West Indian retaliation.

After William Porterfield feathered Chris Gayle behind to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin, Joyce joined Stirling and continued to take the game to a deflated West Indies side engulfed in turmoil and internal disharmony.

Stirling moved past his first ODI fifty since May 2013 with an array of bludgeoning blows but his dismissal, caught behind off a Marlon Samuels delivery, threatened to derail Ireland’s chase.

However, O’Brien upped the tempo further in typically industry fashion as he steadily accumulated before launching a counter-offensive in the powerplay overs to bring Ireland within sight of victory.

The West Indies were powerless to contain the onslaught, going through eight bowlers, as the Irish batsmen clobbered six sixes and 34 fours.

Cricket WCup Ireland West Indies Source: Ross Setford

Joyce was given a reprieve, when on 42, as he was dropped by Darren Bravo and when O’Brien was on 38, he was put down by captain Jason Holder.

As another famous win edged closer, nerves crept into Ireland’s means and Joyce picked out deep extra cover before Andrew Balbirnie, Gary Wilson and Kevin O’Brien all came and went in quick succession.

But, O’Brien was on hand to see the job through and it was left to Mooney to swat the winning boundary over fine-leg.

That Ireland were chasing so much was down to Simmons’ second ODI century as he and Darren Sammy combined to stage a rescue act after West Indies had been reduced to 87-5.

The pair came together in the 24th over, after Ireland had elected to field, with their side on the back foot but produced a destructive counter-attack as they moved through the gears on a pitch that got easier to bat on. In the end, they put on an 154-run stand.

George Dockrel celebrates Source: PHOTOSPORT/Chris Symes/INPHO

Sammy led the charge as Ireland failed to build on the promising position they had got themselves into. George Dockrell picked up three wickets, including two in an over, as Ireland bowled with great discipline in a typically conscientious manner.

But, as Sammy, and then Simmons, accelerated the scoring, Ireland’s bowlers failed to execute their yorkers in the final overs as the West Indies cashed in on charitable bowling, particularly from Kevin O’Brien who leaked 71 runs from his nine overs.

As it was, it didn’t matter this time around but Ireland will hope to address those issues in the next nine days before they face United Arab Emirates in Brisbane on Wednesday 25 February.

Ireland 306-6 (Stirling 92, Joyce 84, N O’Brien 79 not out)

West Indies 304-7 (Simmons 102, Sammy 89, Dockrell 3/50)

Ireland win by 4 wickets

Full scorecard can be found here.

Will there be a better catch at this year’s Cricket World Cup

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Ryan Bailey

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