NELSON, New Zealand (AFP) – Ireland caused the first upset of the World Cup when an audacious 92 by Paul Stirling paved the way for a four-wicket win over the West Indies at Nelson’s Saxton Oval on Monday.
Stirling stood in a match-defining 106-run stand with Ed Joyce for the second wicket as Ireland chased down a 305-run target with 25 balls to spare.
Stirling cracked his 92 off 84 balls, Joyce scored 84 off 67 and Niall O’Brien chimed in with an unbeaten 79 off 60 deliveries.
It was Ireland’s first win over the West Indies in six official matches and the first victory at this World Cup achieved by a team batting second.
The 12th-ranked Irish paid scant regard to the high-profile West Indians and enhanced their own reputation as giant-killers after beating other top-tier nations England and Pakistan in the previous two World Cups.
The victorious finish was a fitting reward for their spirited start to the match when they opted to bowl and rapidly reduced the West Indies to 87-5.
“It’s fantastic to win. This sets us up nicely for the next few games,” said Ireland skipper William Porterfield.
“The belief has been growing within the squad for a long time and we know what we are capable of, not just in this game but the other games in the competition as well.”
West Indies skipper Jason Holder admitted that his team’s total of 304 should have been enough.
“It was a tough loss and obviously putting up 300 should have been enough, but it wasn’t today,” said the 23-year-old.
“I think we just need to be a bit more precise when we set fields. We are just giving away too many boundaries during the middle overs.”
The victory will have boosted Ireland’s hopes of being one of the four teams to make the quarter-finals from a group that also contains defending champions India, South Africa and Pakistan.
West Indies star Chris Gayle again failed to fire as spinner George Dockrell carved through the upper order before a dashing century by Lendl Simmons and a personal-best 89 from Darren Sammy put some backbone into the Caribbean side’s innings.
Their power batting lifted the West Indies to what should have been a respectable 304 but they lacked the discipline in their bowling to defend the total.
Holder opened with a first ball that raced wide of slips to the boundary to give Ireland an immediate five runs from extras which started Stirling and Porterfield on their way to a 71-run first wicket stand.
With Porterfield’s dismissal for 23, the left-handed Joyce joined right-hander Stirling to continue piling on the pressure.