Exit looms for beaten Ireland
Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the World Cup suffered a damaging blow as they slipped to a 45-run defeat at the hands of West Indies, who now stand on the brink of a last-eight berth.
A tight finish looked to be on the cards in Mohali as Ireland reached 177 for three in the 38th over in pursuit of 276.
However, the departure of Ed Joyce, who made a composed 84, was to prove pivotal as the Associate nation collapsed to 231 all out, with spinner Sulieman Benn returning 4-53 and Windies captain Darren Sammy chipping in with 3-31.
Devon Smith had set a solid platform for West Indies with a sedate 107 - his first one-day international century - yet it was Kieron Pollard who lifted his side to a competitive total with a stunning display of power-hitting.
Pollard, who thumped a 27-ball 60 against the Netherlands earlier in the tournament, bludgeoned eight fours and five sixes en route to 94 from just 55 deliveries and feels he has now shed his tag as a Twenty20 specialist.
"What's been said about me, that's just history for me," he said. "I go out there and do my best. This innings is for the people who have supported me.”
West Indies were bowled out from the final ball of the 50th over following a flurry of late wickets, but their score was to prove beyond the reach of Ireland.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul partnered Smith at the top of the order for West Indies in the absence of the injured Chris Gayle, who had an abdominal strain and was replaced by fast bowler Andre Russell.
The new-look opening partnership succeeded in one respect by putting on 89, although they used up almost half of their team’s overs in the process.
Chanderpaul eventually departed, for 35 off 62 balls, to the second ball of the 25th over as he drove Kevin O’Brien to Will Porterfield at cover and Darren Bravo lasted just three deliveries before missing a straight delivery from the same bowler.
George Dockrell had Ramnaresh Sarwan caught at long-off for 10 as West Indies continued to stutter, but the introduction of Pollard dramatically altered the pace of the innings.
Ireland spurned two early chances to dismiss the all-rounder cheaply, with John Mooney missing the stumps with a throw from square leg and Gary Wilson failing to take a tricky chance at long-on off Andre Botha.
Pollard took full advantage as he found the boundary with increasing regularity, while Smith, who had been dropped on 10 by Paul Stirling at extra cover, progressed steadily to three figures - from 124 balls.
The opener was then bowled by O’Brien, who claimed a fourth wicket, albeit at the cost of 71 runs, as Darren Sammy was caught in the deep.
Although wickets continued to tumble around him, Pollard showed no signs of easing up, yet he fell with 11 balls remaining as he looked to loft Mooney over long-off for the six that would have brought up the second-fastest century in World Cup history.
Ireland’s reply got off to a shaky start as Stirling inside-edged Benn’s fourth delivery into his pad and was caught on the off side.
Porterfield's attempt to increase the run-rate led to his downfall as he chipped Sammy to mid-on, having made 11 from 34 balls.
Benn made another valuable breakthrough when he bowled Niall O’Brien for 25, but Ireland’s hopes of victory were subsequently raised as Joyce found an able ally in Wilson.
The duo added 91 for the fifth-wicket, with Joyce receiving a life on 65 as Nikita Miller spilled a simple caught and bowled chance, and looked to have set up an intriguing finale.
However, a fantastic yorker from Andre Russell brought Joyce’s innings to an end and Pollard then took a fine catch running in from the deep to dismiss the dangerous Kevin O’Brien.
The dismissal of Wilson for 61, lbw to Sammy despite replays showing the ball struck the batsman outside the line of off stump as he looked to dab the ball down to third man, all but ended Irish hopes and West Indies had few problems in running through the tail.
“We bowled where we wanted to and that got us the victory,” said Sammy.
“We did well to stick to the basics. It was a tough thing for us when Chris Gayle got injured. But in the end we got what we wanted - a victory.”
Ireland skipper Porterfield refused to comment on the controversial lbw decision that accounted for Wilson, but said: “We were right in the game coming to the end. Wilson was playing really well. But a couple of wickets held us back and the powerplay did not go the way we wanted.”