Monday, February 16, 2015

Pugnacious Ireland beat Off Color West Indies

West Indies vs Ireland at Saxton Oval, Nelson: Feb 16, 2015 - Match Review

Ireland Beat West Indies by 4 wickets.

Michael Holding, a ferocious bowler from the golden era of West Indies cricket mentioned just before the start of play between Ireland and West Indies that it would be an upset if the West Indies managed to defeat the Irish. It was a comment coming from a man who took pride in playing for the West Indies, a bowler who was feared by the batsmen that he was nicknamed as 'The Whispering Death'. The comment summed up what West Indies are reduced to today, their past legacy and glory all but a distant memory.

West Indies possess some of the hardest hitters in world cricket, players who earn millions playing in buffoonery T20 leagues all across the globe. But they cannot come together to play as a team when it matters the most. Ireland won the toss at the Saxton Oval in a sleepy part of New Zealand and decided that Ireland would be better off chasing. West Indies began circumspectly and lost wickets to rash shots and school boy errors. Dwayne Smith hit a ball right down the throat of long off, only one of the two who could be stationed outside the 30 yard circle. Then Darren Bravo sat on his heels while Gayle called him through for a quick single and a direct hit had him register a diamond duck. Gayle and Samuels then hit a few lusty blows but they were far and few in between and when Gayle and Samuels departed in the same over West Indies were in serious trouble. Ramdin followed them soon after and West Indies were 5-87 at almost the half way mark.

Darren Sammy joined Lendl Simmons and the two began the rescue act for the Carribean kings. Now Darren Sammy is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and is a fierce competitor. He has been a soft target for fans who call for his head but he is the one who always seems to be punching above his weight. He was the captain of the side when the West Indies lifted the World T20 title in 2012 in Sri Lanka. He played significant innings in the 2014 T20 as well when he almost single handedly won games for them against the Australians and the Pakistanis. Lendl Simmons is also someone who seems like a fighter and he has been around for quite some time now. They added 154 runs in double quick time and with the help of a few lusty blows from Andre Russel West managed to reach 304 runs in their allotted 50 overs.

West Indies needed an inspired performance in the field, sure 304 was a good total but on a small playing field it was not entirely beyond the Irish batsmen. But their bowlers sent down bad ball after ball and they lacked the discipline and accuracy that was required. Will Porterfield was stubborn, Paul Stirling played with the carefree attitude of a playful child, Ed Joyce like a seasoned campaigner and Niall O' Brien picked his spots and plundered runs as and when he required. West Indies were bereft of ideas and they lacked the killer instinct as they surrendered meekly to the Irish who displayed great skill and determination to come on top. Even though there was a little wobble towards the rear end of the Irish innings when they lost 4 wickets for 18 runs in 30 odd balls, the West Indies players almost showed no energy and belief. In the end it was all too easy for the men in green as they won comfortably by 4 wickets with 25 balls to spare.

Niall O'Brien and John Mooney celebrate a famous victory 
against the West Indies in the Cricket World Cup 2015
at Saxton Oval in Nelson, New Zealand

David had conquered Goliath once again and the Irishmen danced in the stands. It is not difficult to not love this bunch of players who always bring freshness to cricket and seem to believe that they can beat any team in the world. As for the West Indies, there is so much joy and happiness that they give when they play with a resolve and steel, when they dance and sing and laugh on the cricket field while at the same time winning matches and playing in an united manner. But, they seem rudderless and disjointed and do not seem to worried or shamed by these losses. Unless West Indies can rediscover the joy and the reason why they are playing cricket, they will not win many matches. And for the Ireland team, they have beaten a giant once again and I feel that they must be given the test status by the ICC soon.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

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