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Simmons & Sammy, Take West Indies Past 300

February 16th, 2015 | by admin
Simmons & Sammy, Take West Indies Past 300
Ireland
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West Indies 304 for 7 (Simmons 102, Sammy 89, Dockrell 3-50) v Ireland

It was as if West Indies had a long night out in Nelson but forgot to invite Darren Sammy and Lendl. The rest sleepwalked to 87 for 5 through some woeful shots and thinking against Ireland who were accurate with the ball and excellent in the field. Sammy and Simmons, though, rescued them with a 154-run partnership off 21.1 overs, which gave them a shot at avoiding an embarrassing defeat. Sammy’s 89 off 67 was highest score for a No. 7 in World Cups, Simmons scored his second ODI hundred, and West Indies scored 167 in the last 15 overs.

Having received treatment on his back a day before the match, Sammy batted through the pain, scything vicious arcs with his bat, kept on punching the air with every shot even as he limped through for his runs, cursed himself audibly after mistiming one, hit nine fours and four sixes and provided great drama when it seemed West Indies were not going to answer the count. If it reiterated what a grave mistake it was to strip Sammy of the ODI captaincy, Ireland provided a timely reminder of what an error it is to turn the World Cup into a 10-team event come 2019.

The Ireland attack was made up of quicks who bowl in the mid-120s and spinners who don’t turn the ball. They were going to rely on accuracy and tenacity and clever changes of pace. West Indies had stacked their batting up with many capable of clearing any field in the world, leave alone the pocket-sized but beautiful Saxton Oval in Nelson. Then there were rumours of unrest in the West Indies side. The moment Ireland invited West Indies to bat, it was going to be a contest between the industrious but limited Ireland who could come undone at any given time against any of the power hitters.

For the first half of the innings the workmen ants had the lumbering elephant in trouble. First it was Dwayne Smith but capable of playing some awesome shots. Only two fielders are allowed outside the circle in the first 10 overs. When one of them is at long-on, it takes some special skill and thinking to hit a catch down his throat. You’d venture a batsman with such skill and thinking won’t be averaging more than 20; Smith averages 19 and scored 18 here. Later in that over, Darren Bravo, another talented batsman but possibly the worst runner going around in international cricket, took some time taking his eye patch off and registered the first diamond duck of this World Cup.

Chris Gayle played his slowest innings against a non-Test-playing nation, 36 off 65, avoiding the singles like a faithful married man before holing out to deep midwicket. When Marlon Samuels was caught plumb later in the same over, he proceeded to display self-indulgence by wasting a review. Denesh Ramdin went on to sweep without getting outside the line and missed. There would have been a message in there for Samuels had Ramdin actually got outside the line and missed out on the review, but West Indies until then were too woeful for that.

There was redemption in the air for Ireland until then. Andy McBrine, the offpsinner chosen ahead of Craig Young and Alex Cusack, known better for his 24-run over in their rout by Netherlands in the World Twenty20, turned the screws on. He began with a maiden to Gayle before running Bravo out. George Dockrell, the other spinner who was bowled for only three overs in Ireland’s defeat to West Indies in the last World Cup, then handcuffed the other big hitters and took the three wickets in the middle overs.

The last of those wickets brought together Simmons – second cousin of Ireland’s coach, Phil – and Sammy in the 24th over with the excellent DJ at the ground playing Get Up, Stand Up. Sammy and Simmons got up and stood up all right. Sammy edged the first ball he faced, but it went to the left of the first slip. That was about the only mistake he made. In being 8 off 6, Simmons had already shown the urgency some of his senior team-mates hadn’t. Sammy hit Dockrell over long-off early in the innings but the two went without a boundary for the next 6.2 overs. It was only when Max Sorensen was brought back to provide West Indies with gentle medium pace that Sammy hit his second six.

It was almost Powerplay time by now, which West Indies began 137 for 5. The field had been set for the first ball of the Powerplay, Dockrell was about to bowl the first ball of it when Sammy realised the fifty of the partnership had come up and took a break to shake Simmons’ hand. Sammy had been dominant with 33 off 34. He continued to be dominant through lusty hitting with the 43-run Powerplay. Sammy scored 29 of those.

By now the back trouble showed up. Ireland’s Mooney, too, seemed to pull with cramp. Sammy came out the better in the contest of the wounded, just standing his ground and using his upper-body strength and massive arms to keep slugging the ball to and over the small boundary. Ireland lacked pace and yorkers at the death, and on a flat pitch and small ground the slower balls came unstuck. Sammy fell short of what would have been a maiden ODI hundred, but Simmons batted into the 50th over to accelerate from 26 off 42 to 102 off 84. Andre Russell capped off the recovery with 27 off 13, but a win was far from given in these conditions.

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