Cricket World Cup: Ireland hand West Indies chastening defeat

Ireland 307 for 6 (Stirling 92, Joyce 84, N O'Brien 79*) beat West Indies 304 for 7 (Simmons 102, Sammy 89, Dockrell 3-50) by 4 wickets.

An all-round Ireland performance sent the West Indies to a crushing opening day defeat in Hamilton.

In what may be their last World Cup as cricket administrators stand in their way of further progression, Ireland produced a highly-polished performance to chase down a daunting total. Packed with a side full of spin, the Ireland spinners tied down the big-hitting West Indies. The ball rarely went off the straight from the spinner but they bowled a tight, restricting line and were supported excellently in the field.

The early running in the game was made by Ireland as West Indies lost their first wicket after seven overs. Dwayne Smith attempted to take on the fielder at long-on but achieved nothing more than sending the ball into the waiting hands of John Mooney to give Kevin O’Brien his first wicket.

Smith’s wicket was swiftly followed by that of Darren Bravo, run out by an Andy McBrine direct hit without facing a ball just three deliveries later.

After 14 overs without a wicket and the score progressing to 78-2, West Indies looked to have rebuilt and the dangerous Chris Gayle had begun to tee off in classic fashion. However, he tried to play one big shot too many and sent the ball straight into the hands of O’Brien; the simplest of catches to gift left-arm spinner George Dockrell his first wicket of the day.

Yet again, the West Indies lost wickets in quick succession as Marlon Samuels was given LBW on the back-foot facing Dockrell. Despite a review, Samuels had to go and was followed shortly thereafter by wicketkeeper Denish Ramdin, missing a sweep to give Dockrell his second LBW decision and third wicket.

West Indies did recover, however, as Lendl Simmons – who struck a superb century – and Darren Sammy who chipped in with a 67-ball 89 despite a back injury forming a 154 run partnership that looked to have taken Ireland out the game and led West Indies to a total of 304.

Ireland came out to bat with solid intent and showed the noisy crowd in Hamilton their ability as they smashed the West Indies bowlers around the ground with ease. Porterfield was removed for 23, edging Chris Gayle behind before Paul Stirling showcased his incredible talent with a superb 92 before edging a simple catch behind.

Niall O’Brien and Ed Joyce edged Ireland within 41 runs of victory with a superb 3rd wicket partnership. Joyce finishing with 84 whilst O’Brien played a brilliant 79 not out. Despite a middle-order wobble with Andy Balbirnie, Gary Wilson and Kevin O’Brien all dismissed cheaply as victory approached, Ireland scrambled over the line with a full four overs left to send their travelling fans into ecstasy.

Although the contest could be classed as a shock win, Ireland have a habit of beating full-member nations in World Cups. Pakistan were defeated in 2007 whilst England were famously defeated in the 2011 edition. There has now been five successful chases of 300 runs plus in World Cup matches, of which three have been from Ireland. They will be now be targeting a place in the quarter-finals and proving they belong at this level.