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    Ireland oust two-time champion West Indies at T20 World Cup

    HOBART, AUSTRALIA (AP) – Opener Paul Stirling steered Ireland to an upset 9-wicket win over West Indies yesterday, knocking the two-time champions out of the Twenty20 (T20) World Cup in the preliminary phase and earning his team a spot in the Super 12s.

    Stirling had been struggling with the bat but returned to form with a composed 66 from 48 balls to help Ireland reach 150-1 in reply to West Indies’ total of 146-5, reaching the victory target with 15 balls to spare.

    He and skipper Andy Balbirnie (37) put on 73 from 45 deliveries to get the run chase away to a positive start and then he combined in an unbroken partnership of 77 with Lorcan Tucker, who capped an unbeaten 45 by hitting the winning boundary.

    Ireland missed out on a spot in the second round at the 2021 World Cup and started this edition with a loss to Zimbabwe.

    The Irish were struggling in their second game against Scotland, too, before rallying to win by six weeks and take some momentum into the winner-takes-all contest against the West Indies. Now they’re back in the second round for the first time since 2009.

    Ireland’s Paul Stirling bats during the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup first round match against Namibia. PHOTO: AP

    “Losing the first game and then coming back and beating a two-time champion in a must-win game… couldn’t be prouder,” Balbirnie said.

    “Pretty emotional finish to the game, just delighted with the group. Really proud day to be Irish.”

    Ireland Spinner Gareth Delany took career-best T20 international figures of 3-16 in a tight, economical spell that frustrated the big-hitting West Indies batters.

    “It’s a dream come true,” Delany said. “Incredible day for us. To get over the line, in the fashion that we did, is amazing.”

    West Indies skipper Nicholas Pooran said his team didn’t make the most of the ideal conditions after winning he toss and batting. Brandon King’s 62 from 48 balls was the only standout innings in the last game of what was a a disappointing tournament for the West Indies, who opened with an upset loss to Scotland before rebounding to beat Zimbabwe.

    “We haven’t batted well in this tournament at all,” Pooran said. “On a really good batting surface, making 145, to ask the bowlers to defend that was always going to be a challenge.”

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