West Indies suffer second humiliating loss in a week Down Under to whimper out of the tournament they won eight years ago
West Indies cricket hit a new low after the Nicholas Pooran-team failed miserably in their T20 World Cup qualifier against Ireland, soundly beaten by nine wickets against resilient Ireland today.
In the must-win match, with the victors guaranteed a place in the lucrative Super 12 round when the likes of hosts Australia and England join in, this was a dismal display and a shocking one-sided affair.
The Windies had been mauled by Scotland in Monday’s opening qualifier, beaten by 42 runs, with only Bajan Jason Holder finishing with any credibility from their poor performance overall.
The Caribbean side bounced back with aplomb to destroy Zimbabwe by 31 runs on Wednesday, when pacers Holder and Antigua’s Alzarri Joseph impressed.
In what has turned out to be a highly forgettable tournament, the Windies were completely outplayed in their third qualifier at the Blundstone Arena in Hobart. They were comprehensively beaten by an Ireland team who, before this contest, were expecting to pack their bags and leave the lucrative showpiece event in Australia.
Absolutely nothing went in favour for the West Indies after they won the toss and elected to bat. They looked a shadow of the side that has shown promise from time to time, restricted to a pitiful 146-5 total from their allotted overs by Ireland.
The early loss of both openers, Barbados’ Kyle Mayers and St. Lucia’s Johnson Charles, caught out the Windies.
No.4 Brandon King had a lucky escape, when spinner Simi Singh was unable to make it caught and bowled in the fifth over when the powerful Jamaican had scored just a single run. King, who missed the Zimbabwe game because of illness, was the only player to turn up at the crease and crafted an impressive 62 from 48 deliveries that included a late surge with fellow Jamaican Odean Smith (19no).
Ireland made an explosive start with Paul Stirling, who has been experiencing one of his worst seasons as a professional, and skipper Andy Balbirnie on the attack.
Trinidadian spinner Akeal Hosein became the only bowler to grab a wicket, Balbirnie caught at point by Mayers for 37 in the eighth over. This breakthrough wicket briefly gave the Windies a glimmer of hope, as their fielding tightened and the Irish took their feet off the pedal until the 11th over.
Stirling suddenly sprung back to life. His ferocity with the bat destroyed Holder, Smith and other hapless bowlers to steer the minnows towards the target in style.
Smith believed that he had Lorcan Tucker caught and bowled, only for officials to deem that he had overstepped to cancel the capture of the no.3.
And it was Tucker who went on to hit the winning runs, a boundary off St. Vincent’s left-arm medium pacer Obed McCoy, as Ireland steamed into the Super 12 round in the 18th over.
This embarrassment of another hefty loss in the elite tournament that the West Indies have won twice, most recently eight years ago, will be hard to swallow for players, fans and Cricket West Indies (CWI) alike.
Trinidad’s Pooran, whose decision-making and shuffling of batsmen and bowlers in Australia will be heavily analysed by the CWI board, and his days could be numbered at leading the team.
He admitted: “It’s tough, but we haven’t batted well in this tournament and didn’t today either. Coming here and defending 145 was really difficult.
“Asking the bowlers to defend the total was really going to be a challenge. Congratulations to Ireland, they batted fantastically and bowled well.
“There’s a lot of positives. Brandon King is batting well, Alzarri Joseph stepped up. But we are disappointed and have disappointed the fans back home. It is definitely hurting and I am definitely disappointed. We live to see another day.”
WEST INDIES’ ICC T20 WORLD CUP GROUP B QUALIFIERS
Ireland beat WI by 9 wickets | WI 146-5 (20 overs), Ireland 150-1 (17.3 overs)
WI beat Zimbabwe by 31 runs | WI 153-7 (20 overs), Zimbabwe 122 all out (18.2 overs)
Scotland beat WI by 42 runs| Scotland 160-5 (20 overs), WI 118 all out (18.3overs)
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