CRICKET: Embarrassing four-wicket loss for Windies
NELSON, New Zealand (CMC):
A lethargic West Indies slumped to an embarrassing four-wicket loss to minnows Ireland today, as their ICC Cricket World Cup campaign began in nightmare fashion at Saxton Oval.
Defending 304 for seven on a flat track in great batting conditions following Lendl Simmons’ second one-day hundred, the Windies attack bowled poorly and the Irish capitalised, comfortably reaching their target with 25 deliveries left in the innings.
They were propelled by Man-of-the-Match opener Paul Stirling who smashed 92 off 84 deliveries, anchored two key partnerships at the top of the order and kept Ireland ticking along in the early stages ahead of the required run rate.
He was supported by Ed Joyce who struck 84 from 67 balls and Niall O’Brien whose unbeaten 79 came from just 60 balls.
O’Brien’s presence was especially crucial in the late stages when Ireland wobbled briefly with victory in sight, losing four wickets for 18 runs in the space of 28 balls.
Fast bowler Jerome Taylor, whose first three overs gushed 33 runs, woke up with the game already gone to finish with three for 71.
His fellow seamers were all guilty of serving up fodder, as Kemar Roach sent down six overs for 52 runs and Andre Russell, six mundane overs which cost 33.
Captain Jason Holder looked the most menacing but claimed a single wicket for 44 runs from his nine overs.
West Indies had earlier fought back from the brink of collapse with Simmons stroking a superb 102 off 84 balls and Darren Sammy a typically fierce cameo 89 off 67 deliveries.
The pair put on a superb 154 for the sixth wicket which pulled West Indies around from a dodgy position of 87 for five in the 24th over, after they were sent in.
Left-arm spinner George Dockrell did the early damage, eventually finishing with three for 50.