Ireland's cricketers rock West Indies
Published 20/02/2014 | 09:30
Ireland have beaten the world Twenty20 champions, the West Indies, in their own backyard as Sabina Park, Jamaica once again proved Ireland's favourite place.
Seven years after they stunned the world with victory over Pakistan at the 2007 World Cup on this very ground, Ireland have taken an unbeatable 1-0 lead in the two-match friendly series with a six wickets victory. The second game is at the same venue tomorrow.
Ed Joyce, playing his first game of the tour – he missed the Trinidad leg when Ireland could win only two of their five games – saw Ireland home with an unbeaten 40, including only two boundaries, and Kevin O'Brien, who hit as many in his 12-ball innings finished off the hosts with five balls to spare.
But one batsman who should not be forgotten is Andrew Poynter. One of the few successes with the bat in Trinidad, he was given the nod over Niall O'Brien – left out for the fourth successive T20 game – and despite playing his first T20 international since July 2012, the Clontarf batsman yet again justified his inclusion.
He hit better than a run-a-ball and no fewer than six fours, three of them in over from former Ireland professional Ravi Rampaul, which ensured a straightforward finish for Ireland.
Once again they have risen to the occasion and in their first international since the ICC confirmed a four-year pathway to Test match cricket, this victory will have done nothing to harm their status on the world stage.
The Ireland chase, in reply to the West Indies 116 for eight, could not have got off to a worse start with captain William Porterfield plumb in front to the fourth ball and Paul Stirling pulling his second high into the hands of long leg.
But Gary Wilson, with a positive 18, picked up the momentum and with Joyce batting as if he had been playing all winter, there was never a fear that Ireland would not claim their first win over the West Indies in 10 years.
Ireland's bowlers did nothing wrong. It was only to be expected that Chris Gayle would get the world champions off to a fast start but while he was lazily content with a trio of boundaries, Devon Smith hit the fourth ball of the match, bowled by Stirling, into the sightscreen and the fourth ball of his second over into the stands to send the home fans into early ecstasy.
But that was as good as it got for the West Indies because once Tim Murtagh made the breakthrough in the fifth over, Ireland's bowlers took control.
Alex Cusack got the big wicket of Gayle, caught at long-on and when George Dockrell struck with his second ball, the Windies were 59 for three.
Max Sorensen took the fourth wicket in the 14th over, with his final delivery, thanks to a spectacular diving catch by O'Brien. That it was the dangerous Dwayne Bravo, made it important as well as brilliant.
But Andre Russell hit a four and a six to bring up the 100, albeit in the 18th over but even his innings was cut short on 15 by a full ball from Murtagh which wrecked his stumps. Kevin O'Brien maintained the pressure with two wickets in three balls as Ireland finished the first half on top and set up what looked to be a comfortable chase, of less than six runs an over. Even against the world champions, it was just that for Ireland.