Ireland added to their list of giant-killing victories with a six-wicket win over World Twenty20 champions West Indies in the first T20 international at Jamaica’s Sabina Park.
It was at the Kingston venue where Ireland dramatically defeated Pakistan in a St Patrick’s Day 50-over World Cup match back in 2007.
And seven years on from that success, Ireland — the leading non-Test cricket nation — upset one of the sport’s ‘big boys’ once again, with former England batsman Ed Joyce making a decisive 40 not out.
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After the West Indies won the toss and batted, a good all-round Ireland effort in the field saw the hosts restricted to 116 for eight in their 20 overs.
Tim Murtagh, Alex Cusack and Kevin O’Brien took two wickets apiece, with Cusack capturing the prize scalp of dangerman Chris Gayle for a meagre innings top score of 18.
Ireland, coached by former West Indies batsman Phil Simmons, collapsed to 37 for three in reply.
But a stand of 58 between Joyce, captain of English county side Sussex, and Andrew Porter steadied the innings.
Joyce’s runs came off 49 balls, and it was left to Kevin O’Brien — just one of two survivors from the Ireland team that beat Pakistan at Sabina Park in 2007 — to hit the winning runs as the men in green got home on 117 for four with five balls to spare.
West Indies and Ireland meet again over 20 overs at Sabina Park on Friday before contesting a one-off one-day international at the same ground on Sunday.
Next month sees the West Indies defend their global title at the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh — a tournament where Ireland’s first match is a St Patrick’s Day clash against Zimbabwe on March 17.