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Ireland secured their passage to the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup with a consummate all-round team display, emerging victorious by nine wickets with 15 balls to spare against West Indies.
The game was a virtual knockout, with every team in Group B on two points heading into the final day of fixtures. West Indies won the toss and elected to bat.
Ireland began strongly, conceding one boundary, 11 runs, and taking the wicket of Kyle Mayers in the first three overs. Barry McCarthy made the early breakthrough, the pressure telling as the West Indies opener skewed the ball in the air to mid-off.
The fourth over, bowled by Curtis Campher, changed the momentum somewhat, Johnson Charles notching 14 runs in three balls, but Simi Singh soon saw him off, with Campher taking the catch at backward point.
Ireland continued to keep things tight, with the run rate hovering around seven runs per over for much of the innings. Brandon King was the only West Indies batter to make it to 25 as Ireland struck regularly, and King was still kept quiet through the innings.
Ireland’s spin pair of Singh and Gareth Delany combined to restrict West Indies through the middle overs, with the latter reaping the rewards of the pressure built. He enticed all of Evin Lewis, Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell to hole out into the deep, with his final over, costing just a single, capping off career-best figures of 3-16.
West Indies received a late flourish from the blades of King and Odean Smith, who hit three sixes between them in the final three overs. However, having conceded totals in excess of 170 in the first two games of the tournament, keeping West Indies to 146-5 marked a significant improvement for Ireland.
Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie quickly set about breaking the back of the chase. The captain was the aggressor, getting off the mark with a superbly timed sweep for six over deep backward square, and continuing to express himself with four, six and four off three consecutive Smith balls. A scythe over cover point off Obed McCoy for six in the following over was arguably the shot of the day.
Stirling was not to be outdone, slashing and sweeping a pair of fours of his own, pulling an Alzarri Joseph slower ball for six, and closing out the powerplay with consecutive boundaries off the same bowler. At the end of the first six overs, Ireland had scored 64-0 – the highest powerplay score of the tournament so far – with the required run rate under a run a ball.
The bulk of the work had been done, and Ireland showcased all their game management skills to see through to the target without fuss. Balbirnie fell for a 23-ball 37, cutting Kyle Mayers to point, but Lorcan Tucker’s sweetly struck second-ball sweep for four eased any nerves.
The only hint of drama was a reprieve for Tucker, who was caught off Smith only for replays to reveal the bowler had overstepped. That moment came two balls after Stirling brought up his half-century, and, fittingly, he saw Ireland home, in the process becoming Ireland’s leading men’s T20 World Cup run-scorer.
Tucker swung away a pair of sixes, one slog-swept and one high and handsome over long-on, and it was he who hit the winning runs, flaying through cover to cap off a special performance.
Ireland v West Indies, Game 11, T20 World Cup, Bellerive Oval, Hobart, 21 October 2022
West Indies 146-5 (20 overs; B King 62*, J Charles 24; G Delany 3-16)
Ireland 150-1 (17.3 overs; P Stirling 66*, L Tucker 45*; A Hosein 1-35)
Ireland won by nine wickets with 15 balls remaining