Windies through to Super Eights
Colombo, Sri Lanka - West Indies became only the second team in ICC World Twenty20 history to advance beyond the league phase without registering a win when their final Group B clash, against Ireland, was abandoned on Monday night. England progressed in similar fashion in 2010 and went on to win the competition.
West Indies and Ireland, who had both lost to Australia in their opening matches, finished on one point apiece, but West Indies went through on better run rate. West Indies finished on a net run rate of -1.854 to Ireland’s -2.092 to secure its Super Eights place.
The Windies will now travel to Pallekele to take on England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, the host nation, in their bid to qualify for the semi-final. Interestingly enough, rain had prevented West Indies’ first match too from running their full course, as Australia emerged winner by 17 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Ireland, which needed nothing less than a victory to move into the next stage, had found their way to 129-6 in what was to have been a 19-overs-a-side match after a rain interruption five overs into the Irish innings.
Play began on schedule but 54 minutes were lost due to that first stoppage, forcing a reduction in the number of overs. It started to rain again during the ten-minute break between innings and West Indies couldn’t come out for the chase, even though it had to bat only five overs for the game to be considered complete. Just for the record, West Indies would have needed 44 for victory had their chase been reduced to five overs. Ireland’s innings never got any thrust after they were put in by Darren Sammy, their cause not helped by a second successive first-ball dismissal for William Porterfield, the captain.
On Wednesday against Australia, Porterfield had pulled the first ball of the match, from Shane Watson, down long-leg’s throat. This time, he received a full-length beauty from Fidel Edwards that shaped away a touch and crashed into off-stump. Ireland has been well served by their opening pair of Porterfield and Paul Stirling in the past, and to lose the captain so early didn’t help their cause any.
Stirling and Ed Joyce did battle along, but never got on top of the bowling. West Indies bowled with greater control than against Australia when it conceded 100 in 9.1 overs. Ravi Rampaul – who conceded 22 then in his first over -- redeemed himself with a tidy opening spell and Edwards bowled at close to 90 mph to keep the batsmen on the back foot.
The first rain interruption of the evening came with Ireland on 33 for 1 after five overs, and on resumption, it took Sunil Narine just three deliveries to make an impact as he defeated Joyce’s attempted sweep to peg back leg-stump. When Sammy forced a miscued pull from Stirling, Ireland had lost their top three for next to nothing for the second straight game, and was in great trouble at 37-3.
Niall O’Brien and Gary Wilson had the twin responsibility of not just stabilising the innings, but also getting a move on. Narine’s bag of tricks forced them into circumspection, and while the odd boundary did come, their fourth-wicket stand of 33 came at just better than a run a ball and didn’t really worry West Indies too much.
West Indies had fortified the bowling by leaving out Dwayne Smith and including Andre Russell – Darren for Dwayne Bravo was a forced change, following a groin injury to the older Bravo – but it was Chris Gayle who snapped the association, having Wilson caught behind. Through spin from one end and pace at the other, Sammy forced Ireland to dig deep to find the boundaries, and while there was some frenzied hitting in the second half of the innings, Ireland seldom crossed the seven runs an over mark.
Brothers Niall and Kevin O’Brien sparkled briefly in putting on 26 in 15 when Gayle struck again, yorking Niall. Kevin, Trent Johnston and Nigel Jones each struck a six in the closing stages but there was precious little beyond those strikes as West Indies controlled things quite nicely despite being saddled with a wet ball and a slippery outfield.
Apart from Porterfield, every other Irish batsman got into double figures, but Niall O’Brien’s 25 was the highest. There wasn’t a partnership worth more than 33. It was not quite good enough in a knockout game, even if it didn’t make a massive difference once the elements decided to have their say.