HOBART, Australia (AP) — Opener Paul Stirling led Ireland to a surprise 9-wicket win over the West Indies on Friday, knocking the two-time champions out of the Twenty20 World Cup in the preliminary stages and earning his team a spot in the Super 12s.
Stirling struggled with the racquet but returned to form with an even 66 from 48 to help Ireland go 150-1 in response to West India’s 146-5 aggregate, and equaled the winning goal on 15 balls before the end.
The top-flight 32-year-old batter shared a 73-run opening streak with skipper Andy Balbirnie, 37, to get the pursuit off to a positive start, then linked in an unbroken partnership of 77 with Lorcan Tucker, who had an undefeated one Cap made 45 by hitting the winning limit.
Ireland missed out on a place in the second round of the 2021 World Cup, starting that edition with a loss to Zimbabwe.
The Irish also struggled in their second game against Scotland before rallying six weeks from victory and putting some momentum into the contest against the West Indies.
“Losing the first game and then coming back and beating a two-time champion in a must-win game… couldn’t be prouder,” Balbirnie said. “Quite an emotional ending to the game, just hooked on the group. Really proud day to be Irish.”
Irish spinner Gareth Delany posted a career-best T20 international numbers at 3-16 in a tight, sparse period that frustrated the West Indies’ heavy-hitting batsmen.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Delany. “Incredible day for us. It’s amazing to get over the line like we did.”
West India skipper Nicholas Pooran said his team did not make the most of the ideal conditions after winning the throwing and batting. Brandon King’s 62 from 48 was the only outstanding innings in the final game of a disappointing tournament for the West Indies, who opened with an angry loss to Scotland before bouncing back against Zimbabwe.
“We didn’t hit well at all in this tournament,” said Pooran. “On a really good face that was making 145, getting bowlers to defend was always a challenge.
“We disappointed our fans at home. Above all, we disappointed ourselves.”
All four teams in Group B were still struggling to progress, each with a win and a loss before the final day of Round 1. Scotland won the draw and opted to beat Zimbabwe in the eventual winner-takes-all contest.
Former champions Sri Lanka and the Netherlands finished first and second in Group A and advanced to the Super 12 where they will join the top eight teams.
More AP Cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports