Smith, Pollard set up Windies victory over Ireland

Mohali: Devon Smith scored his maiden ODI century while Kieron Pollard smashed a whirlwind 94 as West Indies thumped Ireland by 44 runs in a World Cup Group B match to brighten their chances of a quarter-final berth here on Friday.

Opener Smith anchored the innings with a 133-ball 107 run knock during which he struck 11 boundaries and a six, but it was Pollard`s power hitting which stole the limelight and guided West Indies to 275 all out after being sent into bat.

West Indies then shot out Ireland for 231 in 49 overs with lanky left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn taking 4/53 and paceman and captain Darren Sammy chipping in with 3 for 31 at the PCA Stadium.

Ed Joyce (84) and Gary Wilson (61) kept Ireland in the reckoning with a 94-ball 91-run fourth-wicket partnership. But Joyce`s dismissal in the 37th over changed the equation of the match as Ireland lost their last seven wickets for just 54 runs.

With this win, West Indies have gathered six points from four matches. They will face England and India in their remaining group encounters. Ireland, who had upset England earlier, though gave the West Indies a run for their money today but their quarterfinal hopes are almost over as they have just two points from four games. They take on the Netherlands and mighty South Africa in their remaining matches.

The start of Ireland`s run chase was far from impressive as they lost both their openers -- Paul Stirling and captain William Porterfield -- inside the first 50 runs.

Paul Stirling hardly made any impact as he fell to Benn in the second over. But Joyce looked in supreme touch and opened his account with back-to-back boundaries of the off-spinner. Sammy then accounted for his Irish counterpart Porterfield (12), caught by substitute Ravi Rampaul with the Ireland scoreboard reading 42 for two.

Joyce and Niall O`Brien (25) then stitched on a 44-run third wicket partnership before Benn went through the defence of the former. After Niall`s dismissal, Gary Wilson joined Joyce at the crease and the duo kept Ireland in the hunt with a 91-run fourth wicket stand that came of just 94 balls. Joyce notched up his half century in 67 balls and it took a gem of a yorker from Andrew Russel to get rid of the set batsman, who was once dropped by Nikita Millier of his own bowling on 65.

Ireland`s hero against England, Kevin O`Brien could not contribute much for his team today as his stay at the crease was cut short by a brilliant Pollard who took a blinder of a catch at mid-off off Sammy`s bowling with the Irish still needing 89 runs to win of 63 balls.

But with set batsman Wilson at the crease, Ireland were still in the match but the complexion changed completely with Sri Lankan umpire Ashoka De Silva giving him out in a debatable decision. De Silva adjudged Wilson LBW to Sammy with a ball that landed outside off and was moving in with the seam but the batsman was not convinced and he went for the review.

TV replays showed that the ball was just about kissing the off stump and left the decision on the on-field umpire. The decision stood and an agitated Wilson refused to leave the ground which forced De Silva to again go back upstairs.

In the end, after a review of the review of the original call, the Irish right-hander was given out, which clearly brought UDRS again under the scanner. From there on, victory was just a formality and West Indies wrapped up the match with an over to spare.

Pollard tore apart the Irish attack to notch up his personal best score in just 55 balls with the help of eight fours and five sixes. Earlier, Smith stitched two crucial partnerships – 89 runs for the opening wicket with Shivnarine Chanderpaul and 88 off 63 balls for fourth wicket with Pollard -- to lay the foundation for the West Indies total.

For Ireland, Kevin O`Brien (4/71) registered his best bowling figures but not before facing Pollard`s wrath. John Mooney (2/58) also came up with two quick wickets towards the end to help his side`s cause.

The West Indies were, however, dealt a big blow before the start of the match when explosive batsman Chris Gayle was ruled out of the match with an abdominal strain just before the start of the match.

Chanderpaul (35), who opened the innings in place of Gayle, and Smith ensured a steady start for the Caribbean side even though initially they found the going tough against a disciplined Irish pace attack of Boyd Rankin and Alex Cusack, scoring just 28 runs in the mandatory first powerplay.

Both Chanderpaul and Smith adopted a cautious approach and were content in seeing through the new ball. After the sedate start, the duo started to take ones and twos with occasional boundaries in between to notch up the 50-run stand in the 15th over.

Handed a life when he was on 10 by Paul Stirling, Smith welcomed Kevin O`Brien into the attack in the 19th over with a mighty hit over long-on and then completed his half-century with an inside edge four off Stirling.

But just when the partnership was looking dangerous, Kevin O`Brien came up with a double blow in 24th over to drew curtains on the 89-run opening stand that came off 146 balls.


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