West Indies 257 for 8 (Powell 101, Holder 54, Murtagh 4-41) beat Ireland 205 (Joyce 63, K O’Brien 38, Roach 4-27, Williams 4-43) by 52 runs
(ESPNcricinfo) West Indies, looking to finish top of their World Cup Qualifier group and carry maximum points into the Super six stage, ran into some trouble against Ireland, falling to 83 for 5 after being sent in to bat. Enter Rovman Powell. After a cautious and at times edgy beginning – he was 9 off 34 balls at one stage and enjoyed some luck – he exploded to compile a run-a-ball hundred and lift his side to 257 for 8.
That proved beyond Ireland’s reach, despite a controlled half-century from Ed Joyce, who put on useful stands with the O’Brien brothers and kept them in the game for a significant period.
There was a sense of Ireland building up a proper head of steam too. The stand of 64 between Joyce and Niall O’Brien came at a run rate of 4.46, as the fourth-wicket pair rebuilt after their team had slipped to 32 for 3; Joyce and Kevin O’Brien then added 70 off 69 balls. At one stage, Ireland needed 92 off 83 balls with six wickets in hand.
Kemar Roach, however, dismissed both Joyce and the younger O’Brien in the same over, dealing a body blow to Ireland’s hopes. They were eventually bowled out for 205 in the 47th over of their innings. Roach, who also took the key wickets of Paul Stirling and Andy Balbirnie early on, finished with figures of 4 for 27. There were four wickets for Kesrick Williams as well, and two for the captain Jason Holder.
Powell’s was the first instance of a century coming from No. 7 or lower for West Indies in ODIs. He was ably assisted by his captain Jason Holder, who made his second-successive 50-plus score of the tournament.
Ireland made excellent use of bowling first in conditions that suited their fast bowlers early on. There had been overnight rain in Harare and the pitch retained a tinge of green when the West Indian openers walked out to bat. Chris Gayle was repeatedly beaten on the outside edge before it was eventually taken. Evin Lewis was surprised by extra bounce, spooning a catch to point. Marlon Samuels got a jaffa that angled into him and straightened to flick his glove through to the keeper.
The man doing much of the damage was Tim Murtagh, the 36-year-old seamer whose control more than made up for his lack of pace. And, in any case, it was Boyd Rankin’s job to hustle the batsmen, his 6’7″ frame coming in more than handy as he banged the ball into the pitch.
The spinners Andy McBrine and George Dockrell took over in the middle overs, assisted by a pitch that revealed itself to be a slow turner once the early moisture dissipated. Holder and Powell battled hard to keep West Indies afloat; their 86-run partnership almost exclusively comprised of singles between the 18th and 26th overs before the West Indies captain began dictating terms.
Holder finished with 54 off 71 balls, the landmark achieved with a monstrous six over wide long-on. He could, however, have been dismissed for 17 if Paul Stirling had held on to a return catch generated by his part-time offbreaks. Eleven runs later, he survived a run-out chance with his partner indulging in a last-minute change of mind about a single to square leg.
Powell enjoyed a couple of lives as well: he was on 18 when a leading edge off the bowling of Dockrell was shelled by a George Wilson running back and to his left from mid-off. On 39, he top-edged a pull that went straight up but the keeper was unable to catch up with the ball, which landed harmlessly near the middle of the pitch.
Powell needed to take such risks, though, with time running out. He pulled Rankin down the ground with stinging disdain and later hit him over the top. West Indies lost a lot of firepower when Carlos Brathwaite ran himself out in the 45th over but Powell persisted until the end, doing exactly what his team needed off him.