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Pollard powers Windies win

cricket Updated: Mar 12, 2011 01:00 IST
Ashutosh Sharma
Ashutosh Sharma
Hindustan Times
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A spirited performance by the middle order came to naught as Ireland's lower order collapsed on Friday. For the West Indies, the 44-run victory at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) took them a step closer to the last eight stage and also boosted their confidence for the encounters against England and India.

Chasing 275, Ireland backed themselves to win this one, and for the first half of the match their bowlers and, to an extent, the hesitant Windies' batsman kept them in the hunt.

Ireland lost the match in two parts. They lost the plot when Kieron Pollard launched into an attack and while chasing, lost wickets at crucial stages.

Sulieman Benn, who opened the bowling with Kemar Roach, produced the desired result in the first over by snaring opener Paul Stirling for five. Thereafter, Ireland suffered two more jolts before Ed Joyce and Gary Wilson put on 91 for the fourth wicket to steady the innings. Joyce looked confident for his 84 (off 106 balls) while Gary Wilson made 61.

Ireland lost the duo in a space of 10 runs and Darren Sammy (3 for 31) and Benn (4 for 53) quickly pounced on the opportunity. The duo stuck regularly to bundle out Ireland for 231.

Sedate start
Put in minus Chris Gayle, out with an abdominal strain, openers Devon Smith and Shivnarine Chanderpaul began watchfully. With Ireland fielding superbly, the Windies were made to sweat for every run and struggled to 87 without loss in 24 overs. Just when the openers were looking good, Kevin O'Brien dealt a double blow.

Bowling the 25th over, he took two wickets in space of three balls to remove Shivnarine Chanderpaul (35) and Darren Bravo (0).

Next in, Ramnaresh Sarwan was caught at deep mid-off off young George Dockrell for 10.

Pollard's blitzkrieg
Pollard joined Smith, who had kept one end going, and the two helped reach 130 for three after 31 overs. Smith worked the ball around for singles while Pollard treated the bowlers with disdain in the batting Powerplay.

Ireland were also guilty of letting off Pollard twice and he made them pay by plundering 55 runs off five overs. He raced to his career-best 94 off 55 balls, punctuated with eight fours and five sixes. Smith (107) completed his maiden ton off 133 balls.

'Quarters our aim'
Captain Darren Sammy said the team hoped to continue its winning run to ensure a place in the quarterfinals. It was the West Indies' third straight win in Group B matches and another victory will assure them of a place in the last eight stage. The Windies next play England March 17.