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Spirited Ireland shock two-time West Indies in Nelson
February 16, 2015, 9:40 am
Stirling top-scored with 92 as Ireland shocked West Indies

Ireland stunned two-time world champions West Indies, chasing down a steep 304 in Nelson on Monday.

Half-centuries by Paul Stirling (92), Ed Joyce (84) and Niall O'Brien (79 not out) helped Ireland stun two-time world champions West Indies in their opening Pool B match of the World Cup on Monday. This was Ireland's third act of giant-slaying in as many World Cups. Back in 2007, the Irish had defeated 1992 world champions Pakistan before crushing England, chasing down a score in excess of 300 in Bangalore in 2011.

O'Brien, whose 72 had contributed heavily in the St Patrick's victory over Pakistan in 2007, was once again the key after Stirling fell eight short of a well-deserved hundred. Joyce, who had also played for England, before returning to Ireland, played the anchor's role to perfection and alongwith the experienced O'Brien ensured there were no middle-order collapses.

However, there was a late scare for the Irish as West Indies bounced back to pick up three quick wickets. There were though no signs of nerves for Niall O'Brien who saw his brother Kevin run out for a duck in the closing stages. Soon after losing the sixth wicket, Niall hit two successive boundaries to take Ireland past 300 - one shot away from another famous win.

Earlier, Lendl Simmons's dashing hundred and a personal-best 89 from Darren Sammy hoisted the West Indies to 304 for seven batting first. The pair, who came together with the West Indies in trouble at 87 for five after a three-wicket burst by left-arm spinner George Dockrell, equalled the West Indies' sixth-wicket partnership record of 154.

Simmons -- whose uncle Phil, the former West Indies batsman, is Ireland's coach -- was eventually dismissed in the last over for 104, his second one-day international century.

With Andre Russell adding an unbeaten 27 at the end, the West Indies posted 124 off the final 10 overs. But until Simmons and Sammy set about their rescue mission, the innings had revolved around the spin bowling of the 22-year-old Dockrell.

He finished with three for 50 after Ireland captain William Porterfield won the toss and opted to field, dismissing thoughts of superstition in a tournament where all four games played so far have been won by the team batting first.

His three prized scalps -- Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin -- came in the space of just eight deliveries. It was another disappointment for Gayle, whose reputation as a cavalier big hitter has deserted him in recent times.

He has not passed 50 since playing Bangladesh in August and the last of his 21 centuries was against Sri Lanka in June 2013. Two-time World Cup champions West Indies were banking on Gayle and Samuels in their opener, but their 47-run stand ended when Gayle tried to break Dockrell's stranglehold and was caught by Kevin O'Brien on the boundary.

Two balls later, Dockrell had Samuels lbw for 21. The West Indies appealed but the replays confirmed Samuels was plumb in front. Dockrell fired again in his next over, getting an lbw decision against Denesh Ramdin.

The West Indies had lost three wickets for nine runs and were struggling at 87 for five in the 24th over. Enter Sammy and Simmons, who set about dismantling the bowling as they plundered runs at a rate of nearly eight an over.

Former West Indies captain Sammy faced 67 balls, including nine fours and four sixes while Simmons struck nine fours and five sixes in just 84 deliveries.

The West Indies started cautiously with only six runs in the first three overs and lost their first two wickets in a three-ball burst when Kevin O'Brien removed Dwayne Smith for 18 and Darren Bravo was run out by McBrine without scoring.

The 21-year-old McBrine, playing only his fourth ODI and for the first time facing a team other than Scotland, conceded just 26 runs from his 10 overs.

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