Ireland shock West Indies by 4 wickets
Nelson (New Zealand): Ireland justified their giant-killer tag by creating the first major upset of the cricket World Cup, shocking West Indies by four wickets in their opening encounter at Saxton Oval, here today.
Chasing 305 for a win, Ireland rode on brilliant half-centuries from Paul Stirling (92), Ed Joyce (84) and Niall O’Brian (79 not out) to canter home in 45.5 overs.
Stirling, registering his seventh ODI half-century, stitched a 71-run opening stand with captain William Porterfield (23) and then managed 106 runs with Joyce (84) for the second wicket to make the chase look easy.
Stirling finally departed in the 28th over, but his 84-ball stay laced with nine fours and two sixes, had already done the damage.
Joyce, whose 67-ball knock was studded with 10 fours and two sixes, then stuck it out with Niall O’Brien (79 not out) for a 96-run third-wicket partnership to take the team forward.
Joyce, who registered his 10th ODI fifty, was confidence personified as the left-handed batsman dominated proceedings against a hapless West Indies attack.
But medium-pacer Jerome Taylor put some roadblocks in the Irish way after sending back Joyce in the 40th over and then picked up two more wickets in Andy Balbirnie (9) and wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Wilson (1).
Kevin O’Brien was run out for a duck creating some uneasiness in the Irish camp, but older brother Naill stayed on to ensure the big upset.
Jason Holder’s West Indies was at the receiving end of some clinical batting by the Irish batsmen as the eight bowlers used by the think-tank bled way too many runs.
Earlier put into bat, West Indies were in early trouble at 87 for five before Lendl Simmons (102) and Darren Sammy (89) rescued the Caribbean side to a decent-looking score of 304 for seven.
Young left-arm spinner George Dockrell made an impact with three wickets to rattle the West Indies top-order only to be stabilised by the 154-run sixth wicket stand between Simmons and Sammy.
Ireland, who shot to prominence by defeating Pakistan in the league stage of the 2007 World Cup to make it to the knockouts in West Indies, are once again being seen as a dangerous outfit in Pool B comprising India, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and Zimbabwe.
Four teams from each pool will make it to the quarter-final stage and Ireland have already beaten a potential final-eight prospect in the first game itself.
West Indies 304/7 in 50 overs (Lendl Simmons 102, Darren Sammy 89; George Dockrell 3-50)
Ireland 307/6 in 45.5 overs (Paul Stirling 92, Ed Joyce 84, Niall O’Brien 79 not out; Jerome Taylor 3-71).