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Pollard holds Ireland back

MOHALI, March 11- A Kieron Pollard-inspired West Indies stifled a brave fightback by Ireland on Friday to win by 44 runs and put one foot in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Pollard hammered 94 off just 55 balls and shared an 88-run stand with Devon Smith, who hit a maiden ODI ton, as West Indies posted 275 before bowling out the Irish for 231 in 49 overs at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.

Pollard also took a blinder of a catch to send back dangerman Kevin O’Brien for five off seamer Darren Sammy, who had impressive figures of 3-31 off his 10 overs.

The win took West Indies to six points from four Group B outings and virtually assured them of a place in the last eight.

Ireland, with one win from four matches, must now beat South Africa and the Netherlands in their remaining league matches to stand any chance of progressing to the knockout round.

"We bowled where we wanted to and that got us the victory," said Sammy, adding that his side had done well to stick to the basics.

Man-of-the-match Pollard said: "This innings is for the people who have supported me. Good game for us, important to keep the momentum going."

The Irish began their chase cautiously after losing opener Paul Stirling in the second over to towering left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn (4-53).

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Sammy was rewarded for creating pressure by bowling three maiden overs in a row when Ireland captain William Porterfield (11) chipped tamely to substitute fielder Ravi Rampaul.

Benn bowled Niall O’Brien for 25 before Ed Joyce steadied the innings with a 91-run stand for the fourth wicket with Gary Wilson (61).

Joyce, who played for England in the 2007 World Cup, completed his fourth one-day half-century and kept Ireland in the hunt until he was bowled by Andre Russell for a 106-ball 84, containing nine fours.

Wilson took the fight to the West Indies but once he was dismissed in the 42nd over by Sammy, it was all over for the Irish.

Smith earlier laid the foundation for a big West Indies total with a mature innings of 107 off 133 balls after the Caribbean side were sent in to bat on an easy-paced track.

Smith added 89 runs with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, opening the innings after Chris Gayle was ruled out on the morning of the match with an abdominal strain.

Kevin O’Brien, who struck the World Cup’s fastest hundred in the win against England, showed he had skills with the ball as well, grabbing 4-71 — his best figures in 56 matches.

Ireland’s bowlers kept things tight in the first 15 overs and kept taking wickets at the end of the innings to slow down the West Indies.

The Irish had to wait till the 25th over to pick up their first wicket when Chanderpaul (35) chipped Kevin O’Brien to short extra cover where Porterfield took a low catch.

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Kevin O’Brien struck again three balls later in the same over when he uprooted the middle stump of Darren Bravo before the promising left-hander could even get off the mark.

Ireland were left to rue missed chances against Pollard, who was let off twice early in his innings, with John Mooney messing up a simple run-out chance and Wilson grassing a catch off the bowling of Andre Botha.

Pollard punished the Irish, hitting Kevin O’Brien for two sixes in four balls to race to his third ODI half-century off 35 balls.

The burly batsman, who plays for Mumbai in the Indian Premier League, belted eight fours and five sixes in his career-best knock.

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