Both the West Indies and Ireland kept their hopes alive of qualifying for the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup with vital wins over Scotland and Zimbabwe in Hobart.
The West Indies produced another indifferent batting performance, but their bowlers proved too strong for their Zimbabwe opponents. Meanwhile the Irish managed to extricate themselves from a losing position against Scotland thanks to an excellent fifth wicket stand of 119 saw them reach their target with an over to spare.
It leaves Group B very finely balanced with the final set of matches to come on Friday. All four teams can still qualify, but, equally, all four could be heading home early.
The West Indies redeem themselves
There was widespread condemnation for how the West Indies performed in their first match against Scotland, with accusations of unprofessionalism and a lack of discipline, especially when it came to the batting.
There were distinct signs of a better attitude against Zimbabwe, even if there still remains lots of room for improvement.
Having won the toss they chose to bat first, and, despite losing Kyle Mayers early, fellow opener Johnson Charles gave them a good platform by making 45 off 36 balls, including 2 sixes and 3 fours.
The loss of four wickets for the addition of just 11 runs threatened to derail the innings, , but Rovman Powell and Akeal Hosein helped get things back on track with a partnership of 49 for the seventh wicket.
Powell fell just before the end for 28, but Hosein was unbeaten on 23 at the end as the West Indies posted 153/7. It was a competitive score, but not necessarily a winning run.
For Zimbabwe, Sikandar Raza took 3 – 19 with the ball.
However, the Zimbabwe reply never really got going as they lost wickets in a regular basis, with Alzarri Joseph prominent, taking 4 – 16, and Jason Holder 3 – 12. Luke Jongwe mounted some late resistance, making 29 off 22 balls, but, in truth, the cause was lost by then.
In the end his side were all out for 122 in the 19th over, losing by 31 runs.
Ireland picks themselves off the floor
For much of their match against Scotland, Ireland definitely had the worse of things.
The Scots had won the toss and chose to bat first, looking to build on their shock win over the West Indies on Monday. Despite suffering the early loss of their batting hero in that match, George Munsey, they began well, with Michael Jones and Matthew Cross adding 59 for the second wicket.
Cross fell for 28, but Jones then combined with his skipper Richard Berrington that was worth 77 before Berrington departed back to the pavilion with 37 runs to his name. 33 more were added with Richard Leask before Jones was finally out of 86, made off 55 balls and featuring 4 sixes and 6 fours,
He had more than played his part, though, at his side were able to post 176/5 from their 20 overs.
Initially that seemed enough, as Ireland fell first to 29/2 and then 61/4, with almost half their overs gone.
However, at that point Curtis Campher and George Dockrell came together and the complexion of the match changed completely. The pair shared an unbeaten stand of 119, which took the game away from their opponents.
Campher was the aggressor in chief, making 72 of 32 balls, including 2 sixes and 7 fours, but he was more than ably supported by Dockrell, whose own contribution – 39 off 27 balls – featured one six and 4 fours.
It meant that Ireland had reached their target with an over to spare and four wickets in hand.
What happens next
After two matches, all four teams have two points, and they are separated only by Net Run Rate.
It, therefore, comes down to the final set of games on Friday, in Hobart, with the West Indies playing Ireland and Scotland taking on Zimbabwe. The equation for all the teams involved is brutally honest. Win or go home.
There is one potential outside factor that could still have an impact on the final outcome and that is the weather. Rain forced the cancellation of a number the World Cup matches, including the India v New Zealand game and there are already forecasts that this weekend’s games could be impacted.
That is potentially a nightmare scenario for both the West Indies and Ireland, because, if their game cannot be played, both will be eliminated on Net Run Rate.
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