West Indies overpower Ireland to stay in the hunt (Roundup)

March 11th, 2011 - 9:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Mohali, March 11 (IANS) The West Indies continued their resurgence in the World Cup with a hard fought victory over Ireland, who for a fair distance looked well on course for another upset in their Group B match at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium here Monday.

Chasing the West Indies’ 275, Ireland fell 44 runs short, making it look a convincing victory.

A 91-run fourth-wicket stand between Ed Joyce (84) and Gary Wilson (61) kept Ireland on course for their second win in the tournament, but Joyce’s dismissal triggered the collapse and they were all out for 231 runs in 49 overs.

With the win, West Indies moved to the second place with six points from four matches and have brightened their quarterfinal hopes. The loss spelt the end of World Cup campaign for Ireland, who have two points from four matches, their only win coming against England.

Both teams were without key players. The West Indies had to rest explosive opener Chris Gayle, who suffered an abdominal strain, while Irish paceman Trent Johnston, nursing a bruised knee, failed the fitness test.

Put in, Devon Smith (107) struck his maiden ODI century and Kieron Pollard hit a brutal 94 off 55 balls as the West Indies recovered from a sluggish start to post 275 all out in 50 overs.

Skipper Darren Sammy then shone with the ball to finish with figures of 3-31 from 10 overs, his first three overs being maidens, and left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn condinued his good work to return 4-53 from his full quota to take the West Indies to their third straight victory.

Benn once again opened the attack for the two-time champions and struck in his first over to remove opener Paul Stirling (5). Ireland were reduced to 41 for two in the 12th over when skipper William Porterfield was caught by substitute fielder Ravi Rampaul at mid-on off Sammy.

But Joyce, who had just 52 runs from his last three innings, dug in and with wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien (25) put on 44 runs off 55 balls for the third wicket to steady the innings.

Benn struck in the 21st, getting Niall bowled, following which Joyce and Wilson joined forces and maneuvered the innings with patience and gave their side a realistic chance of victory as Ireland at one stage needed 99 runs off 77 balls. But Andre Russell yorked Joyce in the 38th over to end his 106-ball stay, during which he hit nine fours, and the West Indies were back in the game.

Much was expected from Kevin O’Brien (5), who took a career best 4/71 earlier in the day, and has also hit the fastest World Cup century against England. He tried to clear the straight field, but could not connect well and Pollard, running in from the deep, dived to take a spectacular catch.

Wilson, who struck six fours and a six in his 62 ball innings, kept his end up till Sammy won a contentious leg before decision to reduce Ireland to 199 for six in the 42nd over. Ireland lost their next four wickets for just 32 runs.

Earlier, Smith and Pollard put on 88 runs for the fourth wicket to turn the tide for the West Indies.

It was Pollard’s best ODI score and he smashed eight fours and five sixes during his whirlwind knock. His five sixes were the most by a batsman in this World Cup. Pollard, however, missed out on a well deserved maiden century when he was caught at long-off by Boyd Ranking while trying to loft medium-pacer John Mooney.

In the absence of Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul (35) opened the batting with Smith but the Irish pacemen bowled a disciplined line and length to prevent them from scoring freely. The greenshirts were exceptional on the field, putting relentless pressure on the batsmen.

It was a slow start and just when it looked like flourishing, Kevin struck twice within three balls at 89 to remove Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo. Chanderpaul’s uppish drive found Porterfield while Bravo missed a fuller length delivery that crashed onto his middle stump.

Smith, who came into the squad as a replacement for the injured Adrian Barath, kept the scoreboard ticking at one end. With Pollard, he batted with urgency to accelerate the scoring.

Pollard was at his destructive best as he clubbed the Irish medium-pacers all over the park with the West Indies fetching 55 runs in the third Powerplay.

Smith brought up his century off 124 balls with 11 fours and a six and Pollard soon followed it up with his brisk half-century which came in 35 balls with five fours and two sixes. Smith’s innings was brought to an end by another Kevin fullish delivery that knocked off the bails. His dismissal, however, did not hinder Pollard’s surge even as the rest of West Indies batsmen fell cheaply.

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