Pathetic! Ireland embarrass poor Windies in T20 opener

As both teams cast their eyes on match practice ahead of the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh next month, the West Indies won the toss and took first strike on a glossy, dark-hued batting surface which suggested a bit of preparation moisture.

After losing openers Dwayne Smith and Christopher Gayle following a brisk start, the uninspired-looking hosts were restricted to a paltry 116-8 by Ireland, one of the minnows of international cricket.

Guided by Ed Joyce’s unbeaten 40, the Irish reached 117-4 with five balls to spare.

Scores: West Indies 116-8 (20 overs); Ireland 117-4 (19.1 overs). The loss was particularly embarrassing for the West Indies, given that Ireland, who were invited to play in the recent Regional Super50 tournament, were badly beaten by territorial teams Guyana and Jamaica.

Ireland have tasted victory against the West Indies before in unofficial One-Day encounters. In the late 1960s the Irish were said to beat the West Indies on a tour of the United Kingdom, and they pulled off a similar feat, beating the Caribbean men in a 50-over practice game in Ireland in 1995.

Yesterday, the coach of the winning team, Phil Simmons — a former West Indies opener — told reporters after the game that it was “a big confidence builder to come into the backyard of the world champions” and pull off a first-ever T20 win over the Caribbean outfit.

West Indies captain Darren Sammy said the loss was “very disappointing, but just a bump in preparation”, while adding that his team is “going to bounce back” in tomorrow’s second and final T20 game.

Earlier, the left-handed Gayle, returning from injury, top-scored with 18 as several batsmen appeared to find timing difficult due to the slow-paced nature of the Sabina pitch, especially early in the match.

Marlon Samuels, also coming off an injury lay-off, contributed 16, while Lendl Simmons (16), Andre Russell (15), and Smith (14), all got starts but failed to carry on.

Medium pacers Alex Cusack and Kevin O’brien ended with identical figures of 2-17 for the Irish. In reply, the visitors, helped by the departure of much of the pitch moisture as the afternoon sun belted down, shrugged off an early scare to comfortably reach the target.

Andrew Poynter supported Boyce with a knock of 32. West Indies wrist-spinner Samuel Badree took 2-18 off four overs, while highly rated off-spinner Sunil Narine had 1-16.

After tomorrow’s T20 game at Sabina Park, the teams will turn their attention to the lone One-Day International game of the tour on Sunday, at the same venue.

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