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Ireland return to Sabina Park in Jamaica to face West Indies

Updated: Tuesday, 18 Feb 2014 14:47 | Comments

Ireland celebrate on St Patrick's Day after beating Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup at Sabina Park in Kingston
Ireland celebrate on St Patrick's Day after beating Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup at Sabina Park in Kingston

Ireland return to the scene of one of their finest victories when they take on the West Indies in two T20 internationals and an ODI in Jamaica this week.

Sabina Park was the scene of their historic three-wicket win against Pakistan on a never-to-be-forgotten St Patrick's Day in 2007.

The biggest shock in World Cup history announced Ireland to a global audience and success after success has followed as cricket in Ireland has enjoyed an exponential growth in the subsequent seven years.

"For many, that St Patrick's Day win was where it really all began," said Ireland captain William Porterfield.

"It's hard not to think of that game without smiling. It was just the most incredible fairytale story that day. It had all the elements of a real thriller, with us bowling and catching superbly. We then lost early wickets before Niall (O'Brien) played the innings of his life to get us close. Trent (Johnston) then sealed the win with a six to spark the mother of all parties.

"Fast forward seven years and we've come a long way. It's been trophy after trophy as we've dominated Associate cricket and qualified for every global event since then.

“If there's one regret, it's that we haven't recorded even more wins against full members. We've gotten ourselves in some very strong positions but faltered at the last moment. That's something we're keen to rectify, hopefully starting this week in the games against West Indies."

It won't be easy for the Irish, as their opponents have recalled the formidable trio of Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, and the most destructive batsman in world cricket, Chris Gayle.

Ireland coach Phil Simmons is aware of the size of the task facing his charges, but is confident they won't be overawed.

Simmons said: "It's certainly going to be difficult but we've put in a lot of hard work and also played five matches over the past few weeks so we're well prepared. We've had mixed fortunes in those matches but did have an excellent win against the Windward Islands. It's that sort of form I'll be looking for.

"The batting hasn't really fired for us in the Caribbean, although Paul Stirling has been pretty explosive in the last warm-up matches. We'll be strengthened by Ed Joyce joining up with the tour party as he's an incredibly experienced campaigner.

"If we can bring our A game to the table, then we'll always have a chance, especially if they don't fire on all cylinders. It won't be easy against the World Champions, but we've played excellent Twenty20 cricket in recent months, especially in the closing games of the qualifiers in the UAE in November."

"For many, that St Patrick's Day win was where it really all began" - William Porterfield

Ireland's last two meetings against the West Indies in the T20 format have both been in ICC World Twenty20 finals. In 2012, Ireland scored 129 for 6 before the game was washed out. The West Indies went on to become champions after beating Sri Lanka in the final. In 2010, George Dockrell took 3 for 16 to restrict West Indies to 138.

However, Ireland could only muster 68 to fall to a 70-run defeat.

Their last one-day meeting came during the 2011 World Cup when half centuries from Ed Joyce (84) and Gary Wilson (61) put Ireland in a strong position at 177 for 3 as they pursued 276 for victory, before falling 44 runs short.

Irish encounters with West Indies will obviously conjure up images of Sion Mills in 1969 as the tourists were skittled for a scarcely believable 25.

Ireland will be hoping for another famous day in their three encounters this week. The Twenty20 action begins tomorrow at 7pm (Irish time) with the second match at the same time on Friday.

The ODI is on Sunday at 1:30pm (Irish time) and fans can watch the action via a live stream on the West Indies website www.windiescricket.com or follow the live scorecard on Cricket Ireland www.cricketireland.ie.

Ireland squad: William Porterfield (capt), Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Andrew McBrine, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Andrew Poynter, Max Sorensen, James Shannon, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.

West Indies T20 squad: Darren Sammy (capt), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.

West Indies ODI squad: Dwayne Bravo (capt), Darren Bravo, Miguel Cummins, Kirk Edwards, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Nikita Miller, Sunil Narine, Kieron Powell, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Marlon Samuels, Darren Sammy, Lendl Simmons.

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