Ireland eliminated two-time winners West Indies on Friday as veteran opener Paul Stirling hammered an unbeaten 66 to help Ireland advance to the Twenty20 World Cup Super 12.
The Caribbean team was held to 146-5 by disciplined bowling, with Gareth Delany claiming a career-high 3-16 before the Irish cruised to their mark in Hobart with 15 balls remaining and just one wicket lost.
At his fifth World Cup, Stirling and skipper Andy Balbirnie contributed to an explosive 73-run opening stand that sped up Ireland’s run chase.
The last Super 12 spot will be determined when Zimbabwe plays Scotland later on Friday.
The West Indies headed to Australia with a new-look squad after players like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, and Kieron Pollard retired, and Andre Russell was passed over, having won the event in 2012 and 2016.
They had a disastrous start against Scotland, losing by 42 runs but bounced back to trounce Zimbabwe.
However, Ireland, competing in their eighth consecutive World Cup and has previously advanced beyond the first round just once, in 2009, again ran into trouble.
At a windy Bellerive Oval in Hobart, the West Indies won the toss and elected to bat. The Irish bowlers threw down nine dot balls among their first 15.
Kyle Mayers lunged for a Barry McCarthy delivery out of fury, but Harry Tector intercepted him at mid-off for one.
The risky Johnson Charles hit 4-4-6 off Curtis Campher, but his luck ran out in the next over when he sliced Simi Singh’s spinner for 24 and was caught by Campher.
After being dropped two balls later, Brandon King, who had missed the West Indies’ last game due to sickness, took advantage of the situation by slamming four boundaries to lead his team to a 67-2 halftime lead.
After receiving treatment for a hamstring problem, Evin Lewis missed 13 games, breaking a 44-run partnership.
Captain Nicholas Pooran (13) and Rovman Powell (6) were unable to stave off an intense onslaught as King (62 not out) tried his best to advance the score.
With Stirling and Balbirnie on a mission, Ireland scored 54 runs in their reply, scoring eight boundaries, including four sixes, in the first five overs.
After an exciting 37 off 23 balls to break a crucial opening stand, Balbirnie was caught by Mayers in the eighth over, thanks to the spin of Akeal Hosein.
The run rate decreased, but Stirling, playing in his 177th international match, persevered and, together with Lorcan Tucker (45 not out), led his team to victory. Stirling eventually scored his 21st T20 half-century.