North West duo William Porterfield and Andy McBrine played their part in the Ireland’s four wicket win over the West Indies, in their opening ICC World Cup Pool B game, at Nelson.
Head Coach Phil Simmons sprung something of a surprise first up, including both Andy McBrine and George Dockerell in the starting line-up, while there was no place for Bready pace man Craig Young.
Ireland won the toss and Porterfield decided to put the Indies in to bat and that decision in the end paid off.
John Mooney and Max Sorensen shared the new ball but it was the introduction of Kevin O’Brien that was to bring the initial breakthrough - tempting Dwayne Smith (18) to hole out to Mooney to get Ireland on their way.
A superb piece of fielding from McBrine then saw Darren Bravo run out without scoring as the West Indies ended the first power-play on 40-2.
Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels nursed their side through the next 10 but they struggled to hurt the dominant Irish attack. Gayle looked nothing like his usual self and when he lofted one into the safe hands of O’Brien off the bowling of Dockrell for a patient 36, Ireland were on top.
Two deliveries later the same bowler trapped Samuels in front for 21 and he made it three in his next over when Dinesh Ramdin fell leg before for just 1.
The Windies were reeling at 87-5 at that point but the innings was rescued by a magnificent stand between Darren Sammy and Lendl Simmons. Sammy was the agressor, reaching his half century from 45 balls and despite suffering a back injury mid-way through his innings, he really upped the ante thereafter.
The pair put on 154 in all before John Mooney, himself struggling with cramp, removed Sammy for 89 (9 fours and a six) as the Caribbean outfit edged in front.
Simmons, a cousin of the Ireland Coach was also in full flow by that point and he went on to drive a stake through Ireland’s heart; reaching his century in the final over of the innings. He was out the very next ball for 102 (9 fours and 5 sixes) as the Windies closed on an unlikely 304-7; a staggering 198 of those coming in the last 20 overs.
Dockrell (3-50) was the most succesful of the bowlers with one wicket apiece for Mooney, Sorensen and O’Brien but once again McBrine (0-26 from his 10) was excellent in the context of the innings.
Ireland needed a good start in their reply and they got it as Porterfield and Paul Stirling safely negotiated the power-play overs. The openers had put on 71 and seen off some pretty aggressive stuff from the West Indies pace-men before the unlikely figure of Gayle split them up. The off-spinner tempted the Ireland skipper into an edge to the keeper, ending his stay for 23.
Any thoughts that the bowling team would turn the screw however were soon blown away as Stirling and Ed Joyce retained the momentum.
Both played some superb shots- adding 106 for the second wicket before the former edged one from Samuels and was out just 8 short of his century (9 fours and 3 sixes).
At 177-2 Ireland were well in control and Joyce and Niall O’Brien ramned home the advantage adding 96 more for the third. Joyce oozed class but having looked set to take his side home he skied one to Bravo in the deep and was gone for 84 (10 fours and 2 sixes).
Ireland somehow contrived to lose Andrew Balbirnie (9), Gary Wilson (1) and Kevin O’Brien late on as they made it a little more nervy than it should have been.
Niall O’Brien was still there however - some magnificent strokes in his unbeaten 79 (11 fours) as the Boys in Green won with more than four overs to spare.
Ireland now have a nine-day break before their next game against UAE on Wednesday, February 25, as they play at the world famous Gabba in Australia.