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Ireland, Zimbabwe in Super 12 as WI head home

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HOBART: Paul Stirling smashed a glittering half-century as Ireland stunned the West Indies to power into the Twenty20 World Cup Super 12 on Friday and send the two-time champions crashing out, with Zimbabwe joining them in the next round after edging past Scotland.

Sri Lanka and the Netherlands had already progressed from the other preliminary group to join the big guns including defending champions Australia, who open their tournament against New Zealand on Saturday.

Disciplined bowling from the Irish restricted the West Indies to 146-5 on a cloudy afternoon at Bellerive Oval, with Gareth Delany taking a career-best 3-16 before they romped to the target with nine wickets and 15 balls to spare.

Opener Stirling, at his seventh World Cup, ended on an unbeaten 66 while Andy Balbirnie made 37.

Though a fixture at World Cups over the past decade, it is only the second time Ireland have made the second round of the T20 tournament, since the last time in England in 2009.

After losing their opener to Zimbabwe, Ireland produced a brilliant chase to beat Scotland on Wednesday and were virtually flawless against the West Indies, the 2012 and 2016 champions.

“It means everything. We had a disappointing loss last year at the same stage,” said Ireland skipper Balbirnie, who shared a 73-run opening stand with Stirling.

“We did a lot of thinking, a lot of things changed back home. Losing the first game and then coming back and beating a two-time champion in a must-win game… just couldn’t be prouder. Pretty emotional finish to the game, just delighted with the group. Really proud day to be Irish.”

But it was a disaster for the West Indies, who came to Australia with a new-look team after the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard retired, and Andre Russell was overlooked.

Brandon King scored an unbeaten 62 for the West Indies but had little support as the Caribbeans made their earliest exit from the global showpiece since the inaugural 2007 tournament in South Africa.

“It’s tough. We haven’t batted well this tournament at all and on a really good batting surface, coming here making 145 was really difficult,” said West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran.

“In saying that, congratulations to Ireland. I think they batted fantastically and they bowled well today. This is a learning experience for us. We have disappointed our fans back home. Most importantly, we’ve disappointed ourselves. It’s definitely hurting.”

Zimbabwe also sailed into the Super 12 for the first time on their sixth attempt, topping Group ‘B’ with a better net run rate than Ireland, after their five-wicket victory against Scotland with skipper Craig Ervine hitting a half-century and Tendai Chatara taking 2-14.

They limited the Scots to 132-6 with tidy bowling before rattling through the run chase with nine balls to spare.

“I don’t think anyone could explain what it means. We’ve had the whole country behind us,” said Ervine. “The cricket we’ve played coming into the tournament has been special, so credit to the boys.”

Zimbabwe will join India, Pakistan, South Africa, Bangladesh and the Netherlands in Group 2. Ireland will be in a potentially tougher Group 1 with defending champions Australia, England, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

After the West Indies won the toss and batted, the Irish bowlers sent down nine dot balls among their first 15.

Ireland opener Paul Stirling sweeps as West Indies skipper Nicholas Pooran looks on from behind the stumps during their Twenty20 World Cup match at Bellerive Oval on Friday.—AFP
In frustration, Kyle Mayers launched at a delivery from Barry McCarthy and was caught for one.

The dangerous Johnson Charles slammed 4-4-6 off Curtis Campher but his luck soon ran out, gone for 24.

King crunched four boundaries to steer the West Indies to 67-2 at halfway.

Ireland all-rounder Delany sucked the wind out of the West Indies’ batsmen with his legspin in the later middle overs as Evin Lewis (13), Pooran (13) and Rovman Powell (6) didn’t last but King pushed the scoreboard forward.

The West Indies knew their total was below par but were powerless to defend it as Stirling and Balbirnie had a blistering start before Balbirnie was caught cutting to the spin of Akeal Hosein.

Number three Lorcan Tucker joined Stirling in the middle and thrashed an unbeaten 45 as the Irish cruised to victory.

Tucker brought up the winning runs in style, dancing down the wicket to smash Obed McCoy over extra cover for four, triggering wild cheers from a smattering of Irish fans.

“It’s obviously an incredible day for us,” said Delany, who was named man of the match. “We’re ecstatic about what we’re going to be able to do over the next few weeks.”

In the later game, Scotland batted first but lost Michael Jones in the first over.

Opener George Munsey gave them hope with his ninth T20 half-century, a hard-fought 54 off 51 balls with seven boundaries. He holed out at deep backward square leg in the 17th over in a return spell for Richard Ngarava (2-28).

Zimbabwe started with a four but then lost two wickets in eight balls.

After smacking the boundary, Regis Chakabva was trapped lbw by Brad Wheal and then Wesley Madhevere departed without scoring.

Sean Williams put on 35 with Ervine, but the stand was broken when Michael Leask came into the attack and he was caught by Wheal for seven.

Ervine kept his focus to notch a ninth T20 half-century, happy to play second fiddle to Sikandar Raza (40 off 23) who swung the bat before he was caught behind. against the bowling of Josh Davey (2-16).

Ervine chipped an easy catch at long off with Zimbabwe still needing 14 more runs off the last three overs.

Ryan Burl, however, raised the victory in style with a boundary over mid on against Safyaan Sharif as Zimbabwe sealed their place in the Super 12s.

“It’s satisfying and humbling and emotional as well,” player-of-the-match Raza, who also took a stunning catch and claimed a wicket, said. “I said to [Ervine] ‘give me 8-10 balls and I’ll try to win it as quickly as possible. You’re the one who’s going to take it deep’.”

Published in Dawn, October 22th, 2022



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