Yadram, Stewart and Young ensure Ireland's 279-run target is chased down with four wickets to spare.
Ireland 278/8 in 50 overs (Rock 91, Tector 69; Royal 3/59) lost to West Indies 281/6 in 48.2 overs (Yadram 53, Steward 50, Young 55*) by four wickets.
A cursory look at the scorecard might suggest Ireland were in this tie till the very end, but the reality was a tad different. West Indies always looked likely to win, ever since Bhaskar Yadram’s 48-ball 53 took the Windies off to a perfectly good start in a chase that was initially assumed to be tricky. Ireland did have their moments, nicking wickets fairly consistently, but they failed to grab the crucial moments.
West Indies coasted to a four-wicket win at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, with half-centuries from all of Yadram, Emmanuel Stewart (50 off 67) and Nyeem Young (55 not out off 33). Kristan Kallicharan’s 66-ball 46 came at a crucial time as well, and victory took West Indies into the Plate semi-final.
Ireland would have been confident heading out after the innings break, having posted a fine 278/8, thanks to a 116-run stand between captain Harry Tector and Neil Rock. Both scored half-centuries, and though Tector was dismissed for a 76-ball 69, Rock powered on to score an authoritative 101-ball 91. Unfortunately, a poor display in the field meant it was all in vain.
West Indies’ approach to the chase was typically belligerent. The opening stand yielded 75 runs within just 13 overs, Kimani Melius ably supporting the near-unstoppable Yadram, who ensured there was a boundary almost every over. He eventually fell to spin, chipping one back to Morgan Topping, and West Indies then encountered something of a slide, with Melius (21) and Alick Athanaze (3) following suit.
Stewart, the West Indies captain, and Kallicharan then got together for a 62-run stand that arrested the slide. Ireland seemed helpless at the time, with both batsmen playing their shots and making for a two-pronged attack. Stewart soon reached his half-century off 67 balls, and looked good for plenty more. But out of nowhere, Ireland effected a run-out, and Stewart had to walk back.
Unperturbed, Kallicharan accelerated, making for an entertaining five overs. His knock ended only when he mistimed a pull off Tector. Ireland just couldn’t capitalise on these breaks though, sending in loose deliveries, dropping crucial catches, and missing easy run-outs. Young capitalised, and how. Much like Yadram, he took the attack to the bowlers, putting on 51 with Cephas Cooper (29) and an unbroken 36 with Jeavor Royal (11).
Young’s was a knock of aggression, and for an Ireland side in obliging mood, he was hard to catch.
Yet, it could have been so different. Ireland headed into the game on the back of a morale-boosting victory over Afghanistan, and most of the same processes were followed this time around as well – a solid opening stand, followed by strong middle-order contributions before the late assault.
Jamie Grassi and Mark Donegan put on 33 for the opening wicket before the former was nipped out for 11 by Young. Donegan carried on for a 36-ball 38, but couldn’t kick on from his start as Yadram induced an edge. When Topping (17) and Sam Murphy (0) fell cheaply, all Ireland’s good work seemed undone at 76/4.
However, Tector and Rock revived a floundering innings, much like they had against Afghanistan. They sensibly saw through the dangerous period that immediately followed the wickets, and then slowly began imposing themselves. Strong running-between-wickets was a feature of their partnership, but as it wore on, the hits to the fence followed as well.
It reached a point where West Indies were made to chase leather all over the field, the batsmen unleashing the sweeps, the flicks and the reverse scoops. However, Tector’s fall came out of nowhere – a reverse sweep going straight to the fielder. In came Joshua Little, who used his muscles to good effect to sore a 20-ball 24, even as Rock intelligently accelerated, threading the gaps. He reached 91 before holing out in the final over.
It was a defendable total. What will hurt Ireland is the knowledge that, had they been sharper in the field, they very well could have.
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