Ireland sprung the first major surprise of the Cricket World Cup today as they chased down a target of 305 to earn a four-wicket win over the West Indies in Nelson, New Zealand.
The Windies, whose build up to the tournament has been plagued with a rife of problems after two of their most stellar names in Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard were left at home, posted 304-7 from their 50 overs, in which Lendl Simmons struck a brilliant 102.
But their score did not prove enough as a resilient Ireland side claimed victory with 25 balls to spare, thanks largely to Paul Stirling's 92 and Ed Joyce's knock of 84.
The result was only the fifth time a score in excess of 300 had been successfully chased down at a World Cup and gave the Ireland side, who sit in 11th place on the International Cricket Council (ICC) One Day International rankings, their fourth win over a Test playing nation.
West Indies, who won the first two World Cup competitions in 1975 and 1979, were reduced to 87-5 by a bullish Ireland but they then recovered as Simmons' innings, which came off 121 balls, propelled them to a decent score.
That left the Pool B clash nicely poised as Ireland went in pursuit of a tricky total, and their chances of winning were dealt a blow when Stirling edged behind a Marlon Samuels delivery with 128 still required.
Joyce was then out for 84 but a composed knock under sustained pressure from Niall O'Brien, who hit 11 fours on his way to a score of 79, helped guide the Irish side to an unlikely win to get their campaign off to the best possible start.
"It's fantastic to win," Ireland captain Will Porterfield said.
"This sets us up nicely for the next few games.
"The belief has been growing within the squad for a long time and we know what we are capable of, not just in this game but the other games in the competition as well."
Ireland's victory boosts their chances of qualifying from a group that also includes reigning champions India, United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe and Pakistan, as well as the highly-fancied South Africans.
Porterfield's men last reached the second stage of a World Cup in the West Indies in 2007, and the result puts a huge dent in the morale of a Windies side who are usually renowned for their performances in the one-day form of the game.
New Zealand, who are jointly hosting the tournament with Australia, are in action when the competition resumes tomorrow as they entertain another non-Test playing country, Scotland, in Dunedin.
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