Ireland's World Cup four-wicket victory over West Indies today was the kind of giant-killing that lights up any tournament but cricket fans should enjoy it while they can ahead of format changes for the 2019 version of the event.
It is the third straight tournament that Ireland have turned over one of the 10 "full members" of the International Cricket Council that play test matches and occupy the upper echelons of cricket's ranking system.
Ireland are one of four "associate members" with Scotland, United Arab Emirates and debutants Afghanistan in the 14-strong field at the tournament but in 2019 only 10 teams will take part, the top eight in the rankings and two qualifiers.
The problem with the current format, according to its many critics, is that the first month of the tournament is played out merely to confirm the top eight in the rankings as the quarter-finalists.
Such has been their progress in recent years that Phil Simmons men went into the contest as many people's favourites to win the opening joust, but the style of the victory was nothing short of sensational.
Head Coach Simmons sprung something of a surprise first up- including both Andy McBrine and George Dockerell in the starting XI while there was no place for Craig Young. Ireland won the toss and opted to bowl first - something skipper William Porterfield has shown a penchant for in the past. John Mooney and Max Sorensen shared the new ball but it was the introduction of Kevin O'Brien that was to bring the initial breakthrough- tempting Dwayne Smith (18) to hole out to Mooney to get Ireland on their way.
A superb piece of fielding from McBrine then saw Darren Bravo run out without scoring as the West Indies ended the first power-play on 40-2.
Dockrell (3-50) was the most succesful of the bowlers with one wicket apiece for Mooney, Sorensen and O'Brien but once again Andy McBrine (0-26 from his 10) was excellent in the context of the innings. Ireland needed a good start in their reply and they got it as Porterfield and Paul Stirling safely negotiated the power-play overs.
Any thoughts that the bowling team would turn the screw however were soon blown away as Stirling and Ed Joyce retained the momentum. Both played some superb shots- adding 106 for the second wicket before the former edged one from Samuels and was out just eight short of his century (9 fours and 3 sixes).
At 177-2 Ireland were well in control but somehow contrived to lose Andrew Balbirnie (9), Gary Wilson (1) and Kevin O'Brien late on as they made it a little more nervy than it should have been.
world cup CRICKET