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Windies' Gayle blowing strong but the Irish can set sights high


By Ian Callender

Master blaster Chris Gayle led West Indies to victory in their opening World Cup qualifying match but that UAE got within 60 runs of their target will give Ireland confidence going into their head-on clash on Saturday.

Gayle hit 11 sixes and seven fours in his whirlwind 91-ball innings of 123 and in doing so became only the third batsman to score an ODI century against 11 different countries; Hashim Amla and Sachin Tendulkar are the others.

An unfamiliar name for Ireland to look out for will be Shimron Heymyer, whose maiden century reached 127 from 93 balls with four sixes and 14 fours as the Windies totalled 357 for four.

In reply, UAE - who Ireland meet in the final group game on Monday - never threatened victory as, despite skipper Jason Holder taking five for 50, they could not dislodge Rameez Shahzad, who made 112 not out.

The drama of the day came in Bulawayo in Group B, where Zimbabwe came back from the dead to inflict a second defeat on Afghanistan.

The Afghans, who lost their opening game to Scotland, were 156-3 in the 34th over, needing only another 41 to win. But in a sensational collapse they lost three wickets in an over and slumped to 177-9.

The last pair stayed until the final over when they still needed five to win but Shapoor Zadran edged a catch to the keeper from the third ball to spark a pitch invasion by the jubilant home fans.

Scotland lead the group on run-rate despite losing six wickets in the other game, after bowling out Hong Kong for 91.

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