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Pollard, Smith power Windies to victory

Last updated on: March 11, 2011 18:10 IST

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Kieron Pollard hammered a swashbuckling 94 and then returned to take a stunning catch and script West Indies' 44-run victory over a brave Irish side and brighten the team's World Cup quarter-final prospects on Friday.

Opener Devon Smith (107) struck his maiden ODI century, but it was Pollard's 55-ball power-hitting exhibition that enabled West Indies to put behind a sluggish start and post 275 all out in the Group B match.

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When they returned to defend, Pollard dived full-length at long on to remove the biggest threat in the opposition rank, Kevin O'Brien, and facilitate the team's third successive victory in the tournament.

Devon Smith celebrates after getting to his hundred"It was a good catch. We knew O'Brien is a very dangerous player and the game was right up his alley," Pollard said as he gripped his man-of-the-match trophy.

"We had to get someone to do something to get him out and it was me, taking the catch."

As long as Ed Joyce (84) and Gary Wilson (61) were in the middle, Ireland were justified in believing that they had decent chances of pulling off their second upset victory in the tournament, having humbled England previously in Bangalore.

The 91-run partnership between the two kept them in the hunt before debutant Andre Russell struck a crucial blow in the 38th over when his yorker pegged back Joyce's stump.

The remaining Irish hopes vanished in the 40th over when Kevin O'Brien fell after Pollard took the stunner off skipper Daren Sammy's bowling and his animated celebration revealed how crucial the wicket was.

The spin-pace combination of Sulieman Benn (4-53) and Sammy (3-31) caused most of the damage.

"We got what we wanted, a victory," the ever-smiling Sammy said, claiming he was not surprised by the Irish resistance.

"We did not take the Irish for granted, we knew what they are capable of."

"Hopefully we will win one of the remaining two matches and reach the quarter-finals."

West Indies are currently second in Group B, one point behind India who have seven points.

Pollard had earlier laid the foundation for the victory at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium with the bat.

Put into bat, West Indies sent Shivnarine Chanderpaul (35) to partner Smith at the top as regular opener Chris Gayle sat out with an abdominal strain.

The West Indian batsmen found themselves straightjacketed by the tidy Irish bowlers, Kevin O'Brien (4-71) being the pick of them, who were superbly backed by their agile colleagues in the field.

Kevin O'Brien halted West Indies' progress with his double strikes in the 25th over when he removed Chanderpaul and in-form Darren Bravo.

Pollard, however, had other ideas.

The 23-year-old all-rounder got his eyes in before tearing apart the Irish attack with his scintillating shot-making.

Pollard was cruising to his maiden ODI century when he holed out in the 49th over, trying to make the most of the remaining deliveries, but West Indies by then had posted a strong total on the board.

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