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Ireland Continue Jamaica Love Affair With Hard-Fought Win

Ed Joyce plays to leg
Ed Joyce hit a crucial 40 off 49 balls as Ireland chased down their small target.
©WICB Media

Ireland 117-4 (Joyce 40no, Poynter 32) beat
West Indies 116-8 (Cusack 2-17) by 6 wickets
First Twenty20 International, Sabina Park

Ireland returned to the scene of the 2007 World Cup triumph over Pakistan that launched them onto the global stage to record a narrow win over ICC World Twenty20 champions West Indies in the first Twenty20 International at Sabina Park.

Coming off the back of a Nagico Super50 campaign that took a while to get going until they recorded a win over the Windward Islands, and with the home side having a close to full strength side with Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle all back from injury, things appeared to be stacked against Ireland. However, they managed to restrict the West Indies well with the ball and then overcame the loss of both openers cheaply in their run chase to win with five balls to spare.

Dwayne Smith and Gayle did give the West Indies an excellent start after they had elected to bat, adding 31 in little more than four overs, as the decision to open with Paul Stirling’s off-breaks back-fired, with Smith hitting him for sixes in each of his first two overs.

However, once Tim Murtagh (2-28) had made the initial breakthrough by having Smith caught in the deep for 14, it was largely one-way traffic. Gayle went to Alex Cusack (2-17) in the very next over, with Marlon Samuels and Lendl Simmons then subjected to some tight Irish bowling before crumbling under the pressure.

Samuels attempted to hit out off the impressive George Dockrell (1-15) and was stumped by Gary Wilson for 16. At 58 for three in the 11th over, it was then over to the all-rounders who had been such a cornerstone of the West Indies’ World T20 success. However, they failed to provide the spark that their side needed as they limped through the final half of their innings to end on 116 for eight.

Dwayne Bravo was caught off Max Sorensen (1-23) for eight, with Simmons ending his 23-ball vigil at 16 by being caught by debutant Stuart Thompson off Cusack. Andre Russell briefly dazzled, striking a six, before being bowled by Murtagh, with Darren Sammy (7) and Denesh Ramdin (4) departing cheaply to Kevin O’Brien (2-17) to leave Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree to negotiate the final eight deliveries.

Having posted an inadequate total on what was by no means a poor pitch, the home side needed early wickets to prey on any Irish nerves. Badree duly provided the first by having captain William Porterfield trapped in front by a slightly quicker delivery fourth ball. Stirling followed in the very next over to Ravi Rampaul (1-27) to make it eight for two and have nerves well and truly jangling.

Gary Wilson and Ed Joyce then provided a brief respite by adding 29 for the third-wicket, but just as things were starting to calm, Wilson was bowled by Badree (2-18) for 18 to make it 37 for three. With a relatively inexperienced middle-order to aim at the West Indies bowlers must have fancied their chances.

However, Andrew Poynter and the experienced Joyce put on 58 in good time to break the back of the chase. By the time Poynter was bowled by the ever-impressive Narine for a career-best 32 off 30 balls, Ireland needed only 22 off 25 balls.

Kevin O’Brien and Joyce saw it through, not without some difficulties as O’Brien struck boundaries at crucial times in the 18th and 19th overs. The win was sealed with a scampered two early in the final over bowled by Rampaul.

© Cricket World 2014