T20 World Cup: Ireland knock two-time champions West Indies out of T20 World Cup to reach Super 12

HOBART: Ireland sprang the biggest upset of the T20 World Cup, eliminating two-time champions West Indies with a stunning nine-wicket win that also sealed their Super 12 berth on Friday.
It was their 32-year-old veteran opener Paul Stirling who smashed an unbeaten 66 from 48 balls (6×4, 2×6) to seal the chase with 15 balls to spare after legspinner Gareth Delany’s careerbest figures of 4-0-16-3 restricted the Windies to 146 for five.
Playing their seventh T20 World Cup, it is only the second time Ireland reached the second stage following their Super 8 appearance at the 2009 edition in England.
West Indies, who are the most successful side of the T20 World Cup having won the titles in 2012 and 2016, thus cut a sorry figure, crashing out of the group stage with just one win from three matches.
The Nicholas Pooran-led side who were without the likes of Shimron Hetmyer and Andre Russell lacked depth and looked out of sort, suffering to a 42-run defeat against Scotland.
They went on to beat Zimbabwe by 31 runs to revive their campaign but only to be outplayed by the Andy Balbirnie-led side.
The winners of Zimbabwe and Scotland later in the day in the final Group B fixture here will determine the final Super 12 spot.
Opting to bat, the Windies had Brendon King steering their ship with an unbeaten 62 they stumbled against the spin duo of Delany and Sami Singh (1/11).
Delany, in particular, was brilliant as he bowled a tight line and length.
Stirling then provided a fitting end as he blasted six fours and two maximums in his unconquered innings as Ireland overhauled the target, scoring 150 for 1 in 17.3 overs.
Stirling and skipper Balbirnie (37) took the attack to the Lankan bowlers, blazing to 73 off 44 balls to give them a perfect start.
Once Balbirnie departed in the eighth over, the experienced Stirling and Lorcan Tucker (45 not out) kept scoring freely and completed the job with consummate ease.
It was Tucker, who knocked off the final runs with a four in the 18th over.
“It means everything. We had a disappointing loss last year at the same stage. We did a lot of thinking and a lot of things changed back home. New coach and there were a couple of things that we wanted to do as a team, the way we wanted to play,” Balbirnie said after the match.
Earlier, King, back in the XI after missing the Zimbabwe game due to illness, smashed six boundaries and one six in 48 deliveries, while Odean Smith (19 not out) smashed two sixes and a four to take them close to the 150-mark.
Johnson Charles (24) and skipper Nicholas Pooran (13) showed glimpses of form but failed to capitalise on the starts as WI failed to put up a good total in batting conditions at Bellerive Oval.
“It’s tough, we haven’t batted well in this tournament at all. On a good batting surface making 145 made it really difficult for the bowlers….We have disappointed our fans and ourselves. Definitely hurting,” Pooran said.

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