The sun shone brightly on Saxton Oval and fearless Ireland on a day that will be remembered for years to come in the faraway pubs of Dublin and Belfast. Bowling with purpose, fielding with precision and batting with panache, Ireland chased down 305 against West Indies to infuse the first round of the 2015 World Cup with life on Monday.
For years now, the Irish had punched above their weight, pulling off stunning upsets more than once, but this hardly had the feeling of an upset. Right from the first ball of the game, till the moment when the winning runs were scored, there wasn’t one Ireland player with any self doubt. The manner in which Ireland set the pace against a team that could so easily have bossed them over on another day, showed just how good they really were.
And this was no fluke, in that the conditions were not stacked especially in Ireland’s favour, and West Indies did not take their opponents lightly.
To start with, Ireland made the most of winning the toss, John Mooney and Max Sorensen doing just enough with the ball to keep Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith quiet.
Building pressure seldom fails to deliver results, and Smith was the first to succumb, holing out to long off against Kevin O’Brien. Darren Bravo was sent on his way, courtesy a direct hit from point, before he had even faced a ball, and the wobble was well and truly on at 31 for 2.
For a time, Gayle defied, but scoring at a strike rate of just over 55 brought about impatience and the left-arm spin of George Dockrell proved too much temptation to resist. The heave over cow corner failed to boom off the bat and Kevin O’Brien settled under a comfortable catch.
Two balls later, Marlon Samuels was pinned to the crease by Dockrell and even a review could not save him from being declared lbw. Denesh Ramdin suffered a similar fate in Dockrell’s next over, and Ireland were swarming all over West Indies with the scoreboard reading 87 for 5.
If Ireland sensed they were on the verge of something special, they were dragged back down to earth by a stirring rearguard action from Darren Sammy and Lendl Simmons. With overs in hand, Sammy and Simmons built a partnership from scratch, taking their time to absorb the conditions and line up the bowling. Slowly gaining momentum till they had done enough to push the score past 200, both Sammy and Simmons cut loose.