Simmons hails victory over world champions
Phil Simmons, the Ireland coach, has hailed the upset win over the West Indies as a mammoth and much-needed confidence booster ahead of the World Twenty20 in March. Simmons added that the fact that the win came in West Indies' back-yard made it even more important to his team but warned his charges not to rest on their laurels as they look to close out the series on Friday.
"It's a big victory because we are in West Indies' hometown so to beat the world champions, it's going to give us a lot of confidence, especially going into the World T20s in March," Simmons said. "It's good for us to beat [ICC] Full Members and especially the better ones such as the West Indies."
Simmons believes that while many West Indian players were still feeling the effects from the Nagico Super50 tournament, the time his team had to rest and acclimatise gave them a slight advantage.
"I think we've had more time to prepare and we were sharper today and got accustomed to the conditions. We bowled a lot better than we've done in the past and we also fielded a lot better. Our bowlers did the job and we came out on top."
Simmons praised the disciplined bowling of Alex Cusack as well as Tim Murtagh and Kevin O'Brien, all who scalped two apiece, to restrict the West Indies to a paltry 116 off their allotted 20.
He added that they had high hopes for left-arm spinner George Dockrell who also helped stymie the West Indians with a tidy 1 for 15 from his four overs. "He's been practising and working hard. He got his pace and his length well today and that's what helped our other bowlers get the wickets. It's nice to see him and Cusack back in form."
In their chase, Ireland took it to the last over before making 117 for the loss of four wickets but Simmons admitted that the batting needed improving if they were to mount a serious challenge in Bangladesh. Simmons said that changes were forthcoming as he wanted to bolster his batting as he believes they have a good understanding of the Sabina pitch now.
"I don't think the top couple of our batters batted as well as they could have. We did manage to end up batting smartly in the conditions though and it came down to a big partnership which is what you need in these circumstances, something around fifty or fifty-something," he continued. He was referencing the 58-run fourth-wicket partnership between Ed Joyce (40 not out) and Andrew Poynter (32) as the turning point which helped stabilise his team after they got off to a nervous start. They were pegged to 37 for 3 in the seventh over but recovered to take the win.
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here