Ireland celebrated one of their most significant victories in T20 cricket in Hobart, when it was predicted to rain all day. Ireland knocked the two-time defending champions West Indies out of the tournament and advanced to the Super-12 round of the 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup.
The two players who stood out the most from Ireland’s stirring performance were legspinner Gareth Delany and leadoff hitter Paul Stirling. Ireland sped to the goal in the 18th over, not allowing their opponents a chance after holding West Indies to 146 for 5. This turned a potentially nerve-wracking chase in a quarterfinal game into a cruise.
The sizeable contingent of Ireland supporters who had come out in support broke into their customary song and dance while enthusiastically waving the Irish flag in windy Bellerive when Lorcan Tucker went out to loft Obed McCoy inside-out over extra cover to score the winning runs. Ireland had only ever advanced to the second round of a T20 World Cup once before, in the 2009 edition held in England.
Early West Indies Conflict
West Indies got off to a bad start, losing Johnson Charles and Kyle Mayers to powerful shots during the powerplay. If offspinner Simi Singh had not given up on a quick return opportunity to dismiss Brandon King for one in the fifth over, things might have turned even worse.
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As the innings went on, it became more and more obvious that some deliveries, particularly those that were dug in, held up a little bit longer than others and that the batters needed to adjust their approach. West Indies didn’t start to get going until the eighth over, when King smashed two boundaries square of the wicket as medium bowler Curtis Campher miscued his length.
Rovman Powell, a powerful hitter, was tricked by Delany in his third over both in the air and off the pitch. He was caught at deep midwicket while attempting to collect a slog sweep from outside off, towards the longer boundary, in an over that only produced one run. With West Indies floundering at 112 for 5 after 17 overs, Delany concluded with 3 for 16 from four overs.
Even though it seemed like West Indies was at least 20 shy of a competitive total, King and Odean Smith eventually provided them a late push.
The Blitz In Stirling-Balbirnie
Ireland’s strategy was clear as they came out to chase. Throughout the powerplay, Andy Balbirnie profited from Pooran’s gamble to bowl Odean Smith rather than Jason Holder by relentlessly attacking the spin of Akeal Hosein. After stumbling through a run-a-ball, West Indies gradually acquired some momentum. A 44-run partnership was broken abruptly by Delany, who bowled a shaky Ewin Lewis for the first of his three wickets just as they were starting to pose a threat. At 71 for 3 in the eleventh over, Ireland was once more in charge.
Delany strikes, and King brawls
King missed the game against Zimbabwe due to illness, but he didn’t appear rusty as he quickly switched to striking mode. He was serious from the first ball, as he sprinted out to drill an extra-cover drive to the boundary.
King used the short boundaries and gaps as his targets while playing the field expertly to keep the strike moving and prevent the bowlers from settling. With King and Nicholas Pooran present, there was briefly a chance for a West Indies comeback, but Delany’s captaincy dismissal—Pooran reached out and smacked one straight to sweeper cover—put an end to those dreams.
The Ireland skipper struck Smith for 4, 6, and 4 off his first three deliveries, which was a dismal start to his performance in this phase with an economy rate of 11.18 in 11 overs for just three wickets. Ireland sped to 64 without loss in the first six overs thanks in large part to McCoy’s slower variations, which proved costly for West Indies.
West Indies Out Of T20 World Cup 2022:
There was some hope for West Indies when, in the eighth over, Hosein had Balbirnie caught at point for a 34-ball 37. Between overs 7.5 and 10.2, which was the one time they seemed to be in control, they didn’t give up a boundary.
Alzarri Joseph was carted over the grass banks at deep midwicket by Stirling, who then made his way free. In the 12th over, he sliced Smith for four behind point to reach his half-century off just 32 deliveries. West Indies was now just holding on.
Lorcan Tucker was caught and bowled by Smith in the same over, but he afterwards realised he had overstepped. As the possibility of an early departure from Australia became a reality, it encapsulated West Indies’ day.
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