By Jamie Alter
Mohali: March 11, 2011
West Indies begin dourly and finished dazzlingly, as Kieron Pollard ensured the platform set through Devon Smith’s maiden one-day century wasn’t squandered. Pollard entered the stage with West Indies’ run rate hovering at four an over, but injected the necessary oomph to set up a total of 275, leaving Ireland to chase at a required rate of 5.52.
When Ramnaresh Sarwan chipped a catch off George Dockrell to the deep, West Indies had slipped from 89 for no wicket to 103 for three in 32 overs. What followed was marked change in rhythm, with Smith lifting his game and Pollard sizzling. Until now Smith had some struggles forcing the pace, but Pollard’s hulking presence prompted him to shrug it off in the batting Powerplay.
With Pollard setting the tone with some meaty drives, the pair managed to keep the scoreboard ticking. The first part of Smith’s innings consisted mainly of nudges and flicks - he had 53 from 84 balls after 25 overs – and his last 53 came off 49 balls as he capitalized on the hard work done earlier.
Kevin O’Brien had conceded just 22 runs in his first five overs, only for Pollard to dent those figures with two sixes in his sixth. Andre Botha should have had Pollard on 19 but Paul Stirling missed a steeper, and the bowler was swatted for boundaries. Pollard and Smith poached 57 from the batting Powerplay.
Upping the tempo with some glorious pull shots, Pollard raised West Indies’ 200 in the 41st over with a clever dab for four before bringing up his third ODI fifty with a hack to deep midwicket. Kevin O’Brien once again hit back with a double-wicket over, bowling Smith and getting Darren Sammy to pick out fine leg of all places.
Devon Thomas followed, nicking Boyd Rankin for two, and that left Pollard with no option but go for broke with five overs left. With a clatter of fours and sixes Pollard surged to 94 off 55 balls, with 64 runs hammered through the on side. Looking for a maiden century, he picked out long-off and Ireland grabbed the last four wickets for just eight runs.
Pollard’s innings had given West Indies plenty of juice after a chalky first half. West Indies started their innings well, with an 89-run opening partnership, but they looked uneasy, as if unsure how to deal with the slow track. The first boundary was scored in the fourth over, and after ten overs they had managed only four in total as the score meandered to 28 for 0. An opportunity was presented when Smith drove Alex Cusack hard to short extra cover, but Stirling was unable to grab a sharp chance.
Smith’s was a fortuitous innings. He managed to pierce the gaps, but had his moments of indecision, when balls skimmed past his bat and edges flew to fine leg and third man. In conditions not easy for batting – it around a little with the new ball, and there some plays-and-misses – Smith overcame his jitters and played close to the body, choosing the deliveries to attack.
It was an innings of much value and there were genuine shots of class, the pick of the lot a back-foot punch through cover and a lofted six over mid-on before he’d crossed fifty.
Smith and Shivnarine Chanderpaul had some success against John Mooney, who went for 29 in five overs before being taken out of the attack. Against the other bowlers, runs did not come quite so easily. Chanderpaul’s first aggressive shot led to his dismissal for a sedate 35, and Darren Bravo went for 0 as Kevin O’Brien breached his defences with a peace.
Then Pollard took over, and how things changed.
Brief Scores: West Indies 275 all out in 50 overs (Devon Smith 107, Kieron Pollard 94, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 35; Kevin O’Brien 4 for 71, John Mooney 2 for 58) vs Ireland.
(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine.His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now)
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