West Indies start Women’s World Cup qualifiers with a win over Ireland
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(Cricket news) Openers Gaby Lewis and Leah Paul gave the Ireland team a rolling start, and the all-round performance of Eimear Richardson wasn't enough for Ireland to beat the West Indies at Harare in the Women’s World Cup Qualifiers.
After losing the toss and being asked to bat first, Ireland’s openers Lewis and Paul began the innings with precaution. Overnight rain had left conditions damp and muggy, with both captains expecting early batting to be uncomfortable. However, the Irish pair put together a 79 run opening stand. Left-hander Paul was scoring runs in a slow pace, while right-handed Lewis looked to gradually increase the scoring rate with a mixture of firmly struck and finessed boundaries and one mega maximum off Hayley Matthews.
The pair were pushing along at four runs an over until in the 20th over when Lewis struck a well-timed off-drive off Anisa Mohammed, which the off-spinner caught out of thin ice, one handed inches from the grass. Lewis’ 36 from 58 balls may have settled any opening-game nerves amongst her teammates, but her demise could be considered highly unfortunate as it came from a 7th ball of Mohammed’s over, which was not looked up by the on-field umpires.
This breakthrough set off a batting collapse which saw the momentum of the innings shift gears. From 79-1, Ireland lost five wickets for just 23 runs in the next seven overs. Amy Hunter was run out before she could get runs on board, and was soon followed by Paul who was bowled behind her legs, out for 25. The middle-order could not put pressure on the bowlers until Eimear Richardson was joined by Mary Waldron, and the pair sought to stabilise the Irish innings.
Waldron looked at ease, cracking a boundary through the covers, but fell leg before wicket the next ball. Richardson found some support from Celeste Raack with the pair pushing the score beyond 150, but the introduction of West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor to the bowling crease saw Richardson and Georgina Dempsey make their way in consecutive balls, and the innings came to an end as Ireland set a target of 160 in 50 overs.
Needing early wickets to put pressure on the chasing side, the Irish bowlers could only watch on as the experienced West Indian opener Deandra Dottin hit out early. With rain threatening, the West Indian batters sought to stay ahead of the DLS score, and brought up the 50 in the 11th over. A deflected run out of Rashada Williams left stranded at the non-striker's end provided hope for the Irish team, before the rain eventually arrived and forced players to leave the pitch after 14 overs with the Caribbean side on 63-1.
It was Player of the Match Dottin’s day, though, with the 30-year old Barbadian opener hitting eight fours and a six in an innings of 73, finally falling to a well-held caught & bowled by Richardson.
With Dottin’s demise, Taylor took up the reins and guided her side home by 6 wickets with 63 balls to spare.
After the match, Irish captain Laura Delany maintained a determined and focused perspective: "We wouldn't be here if we didn't want to qualify - we're only one game into the tournament, and still have two games to play. We have yet to play our best cricket, so I'm looking forward to the next two games."
“I was really happy that we took it into the 40th over, and our spinners put in a really good spell in the middle overs – hopefully in the next game we can take a couple of early wickets and put a little bit more pressure on our opposition.”
Ireland’s next match is on Thursday at the same venue against the Netherlands.
Ireland 159 (42.5 overs: G Lewis 36, E Richardson 32; A Mohammed 3-40)
West Indies 163-4 (39.3 overs: D Dottin 73, S Taylor 41*; E Richardson 2-33)
West Indies won by 6 wickets