<
>

Clinical Ireland are giantkillers no longer

play
I don't see this as an upset - Porterfield (1:50)

Ireland's William Porterfield on Ireland's giant-killing performance against West Indies, in Nelson (1:50)

College Park, Dublin, 1928: Ireland beat West Indies by 60 runs. Holm Field, Sion Mills, 1969: Ireland beat West Indies on first innings having humbled a side including Clive Lloyd and Sir Clyde Walcott for 25. Stormont, Belfast, 2004: Ireland beat West Indies by six wickets chasing 293. Kingston, Jamaica, 2014: Ireland beat West Indies by six wickets in a T20 international.

They were all surprise victories, although by the time of the 2014 win the shock factor was reduced. When Ireland completed victory against West Indies at Nelson, shock was, or at least should have been, a distant emotion.

The extraordinary run chase against England in Bangalore will forever be etched in Irish cricket history for its come-from-behind tale and the one at Sabina Park against Pakistan for its history-making feat. But this effort, at the beginning of a World Cup campaign where not reaching the quarter-finals will be classed as a failure, was their most clinical batting performance against a Full Member

A late fall of wickets never really caused a tremor, but merely disguised the extent of their victory.

This victory, too, coming after Ireland had been punished during the final 15 overs in the field to the tune of 167 runs: potentially gamechanging figures. Lendl Simmons and Darren Sammy sent West Indies into the interval with a surge, high-fives abounded in the dressing room, but Ireland did not let it alter their mindset.

The chase was not a contest. From the moment that William Porterfield and Paul Stirling laid the foundations with an opening stand of 71 it is not an exaggeration to say that Ireland never looked like losing their way. Each question raised - how would they cope with West Indies' extra pace, would they get stuck in the middle of the innings and the potential impact of realising victory was within their grasp - was answered in emphatic style.

All five matches at the beginning of this World Cup have involved 300-plus first-innings scores and Ireland are the first not to be overwhelmed by it.

Perhaps their history of such 300-plus chases (they are responsible for three out of five at World Cups) should add to the element of predictability. They were also facing the poorest bowling display of the five games. But in the picturesque setting of Saxton Field they earned the right to dominate by not taking a backward step.

"It was the intent we played with; we took the attack back to West Indies," Porterfield said. "They came at us pretty aggressively and the way the lads stuck at it to keep the scoring rate was fantastic. We knew there was a lot more in the tank from what we had been doing. How we've prepared, both in the nets and mentally, has been fantastic.

"They played well in the last 10 overs but once we set the platform everyone carried it on. There was a great feeling and that bred confidence. We always felt under control and never at any stage felt under pressure."

Ed Joyce and Niall O'Brien, with his highest score against a Test nation, produced the innings of their lives and either could easily have been Man of the Match ahead of Paul Stirling, not that this observation should take anything away from his 92 which included taking a blow on the helmet badge from Jerome Taylor.

One of the themes of Porterfield's pre-match press conference was the state of Ireland's top order and insisted it was not a concern. His faith was handsomely rewarded.

This was an occasion when the pressure came less from the West Indies bowling, which was awful at times, and more from knowing what rested on their shoulders. It did not burden Ireland's batsmen, helped perhaps by the fact that they were also comfortably the best supported team among a crowd of only 4,143.

As the target loomed, and a sixth wicket fell - surely not a final twist? - O'Brien calmly clipped a boundary and scythed another over cover.

Porterfield was also involved in a significant decision before play began. The selection of Andy McBrine, ahead of Craig Young, took many by surprise. His last over in a global tournament had cost 24 when he opened the bowling against Netherlands at the beginning of their remarkable chase in the World T20. This time he bowled ten overs for just two more runs than that disastrous over - and that included keeping Chris Gayle quiet. George Dockrell took the wickets, but it was bowling teamwork.

The pace bowling is a concern, and Ireland's weakest link, but the other suits of the game - spin bowling, fielding and top-order batting - were markedly more impressive than West Indies.

When the winning runs arrived - as in Bangalore against England four years ago, from the bat of John Mooney - there was no mad rush onto the outfield as at the Chinnaswamy Stadium or Sabina Park four years previous. The result was less extreme, but they are also taking it all in the stride. Not quite just another day the office, but not far off.

"I personally hate the terms upset, minnows, Associates - I don't see why a team has to be an Associate or a Full Member, surely you are just ranked one to whatever. It's not like that in any other sport, so I don't see why it is in ours," Porterfield said as he took the chance of another swipe at the ICC.

"I don't see it as upset, we came into win. We'll prepare to win the UAE game, then South Africa. It's where we are at, we are looking to pick up two points in every game."

Part of the challenge now is to not slip in the next game against the UAE in Brisbane because that would be a horrid waste after a display such as this. They have nine days to enjoy the win, come back down to earth and start again. You sense they will take it all in their stride. If they don't, that would be the real surprise.