The Windies eased past Ireland last night by 9 wickets to draw the three match T20 series one a piece. A clinical performance from Pollard and his ‘Men in Maroon’ was led with the ball from Bravo and Pollard himself, before Lendl Simmons hit a scintillating unbeaten 91 with the bat to seal the emphatic win.
The game started in a familiar fashion, with Ireland having first use of the pitch, for the seventh consecutive time on their Caribbean tour. After another rapid start from Ireland’s most successful ever T20 opening partnership, Pollard may have been regretting his decision at the toss, with the memory of Grenada and the first match still fresh in his memory.
The average 1st innings Powerplay score in T20’s at Warner Park, St Kitts is 41.26. When that total was surpassed in the third over, and with Ireland 48/0 from the first 18 balls, Pollard took it upon himself to try and wrestle back control, with great success. Buoyed by registering his career best T20 figures in the last match, Pollard struck with his fourth ball of his spell, removing the dangerous Kevin O’Brien caught in the deep.
Pollard attacked an in-between length of 6-8m, delivering 11 (45.8%) of his 24 deliveries in this area grouping, a larger percentage than his career T20 average of 34.4%. All three of Pollard’s wickets today came from balls pitched within this two meter wide zone.
Ireland stumbled to 138 all out, with O’Brien’s 36 run early assault being the main contribution of note from the batting side. Dwayne Bravo continued his good form, claiming three Irish wickets, with Rutherford and Shepherd finishing with one scalp each.
The Windies reply was brief, only needing 66 balls to reach their target to bring parity to the series. Lendl Simmons played an innings which is a departure from his usual style. Before this game, Simmons’ T20I strike rate was languishing at 121.37, facing 43.4% dot balls, and only hitting 16.4% of deliveries faced to the boundary. It was therefore a surprise when Simmons launched an assault on the Irish attack, scoring an unbeaten 91 from 40 deliveries, striking five 4’s and ten 6’s at a strike rate of 227.50.
Lendl undoubtedly favoured the seamers, striking 76 of his 91 runs from pace bowlers, at an average of over two and a half runs per delivery. Simmons also had scored 86.8% of his runs in front of square in this innings. Bizarrely, none of his 91 were scored behind square on the legside, a zone in which typically, Simmons scores 17% of his T20 runs.
Overall, captain Pollard will be happy with how his side played in five of the six innings of this tournament, and had the weather not intervened, would have most likely gone on to be crowned series winners.