By Marlon Munroe
There were a few tense moments when the Caribbean side batted but in the end hosts West Indies romped to an easy 70-run victory over Ireland last evening in their first Group-D match of the ICC World Twenty20 Championships at the Guyana National Stadium at Providence.
West Indies all-rounder and man-of-the-match Darren Sammy, led a spirited batting resurgence after a middle-order collapse which enabled the team to reach 138-9.
Sammy then returned with the ball to grab 3-8 from 3.4 overs and for good measure took four catches as the Irish were bundled out for 68 in 16.4 overs.
Sammy was supported by pacer Ravi Rampaul who took three wickets for 17 runs from his three overs as the Irish minnows were thoroughly trampled upon by a pumped-up Windies side led by Dwayne Bravo in the absence of Chris Gayle.
Ireland’s leading contributor with the bat was Gary Wilson who made 17 and he was the only batsman to go past double figures.
When West Indies batted after winning the toss, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Andre Fletcher, opening the batting, looked poised to take flight. Chanderpaul was the more aggressive of the two during his 12-ball 14 (2×4) but it all unravelled when he was caught at cover by Wilson off the bowling of pacer Boyd Rankin.
Dwayne Bravo entered and almost immediately put the Irish on the back foot with his energetic running between the wickets with Fletcher, who had started to assert himself over the bowlers. Bravo punched medium pacer Alex Cusack over extra cover for six before popping a return catch the next ball.
He went for a 10-ball 18, which included two sixes and the West Indies were 43-2 after 5.2 overs.
The West Indies top order batsmen failed to capitalize on their starts. Ramnaresh Sarwan was quite busy during his 24, which comprised of one boundary from 26 balls before he played an inelegant shot to left arm spinner George Dockrell, who was the pick of the Ireland bowlers with 3-16 from his four overs.
He also claimed the wickets of Fletcher (19) and Narsingh Deonarine (10) before the characteristic crumble of the middle order. It was reminiscent of collapses against Zimbabwe and New Zealand on Wednesday when they lost their lone warm-up game.
Sammy spared the West Indies’ blushes. He hit two huge sixes and two elegantly stroked fours even as wickets fell rapidly in the dying stages of the innings. Eventually his 17-ball innings ended when he was caught by William Porterfield off the bowling Andrew Botha.
When Ireland batted their fate was doomed from the inception after Sammy took a spectacular diving one-handed catch at second slip off pacer Kemar Roach to dismiss Porterfield for four in the second over. He later took a chest high reflex catch to dismiss Wilson.
The Irish struggled to put together any significant partnership before Porterfield declared that he was disappointed at the way they lost the match at the post-game press conference.