About the Match
The West Indies had an excellent and competitive test series against England and even though they lost 2-1, the result was far better than what most people were expecting. They now travel to Ireland and face off against the newest Test nation on earth. The last time these two teams met was in the 2015 World Cup, an encounter that Ireland won.
A lot of Irish fans have wondered aloud whether their ascension into the ranks of test playing nations came when the Ireland team has passed its best and there is definitely some truth to that. There has been a lack of top players coming through but the talent drain to England may ease off somewhat in the coming years.
The majority of the team expected to feature in this match will be the same one that beat the West Indies in the World Cup and will be confident of repeating that same result at home. The Irish skipper has said that they will be looking to lay down a marker against a team that they will probably face in the World Cup qualifiers.
Winning has not come easily to Ireland off late as they have been thrashed by England, beaten by Afghanistan and they seem like a team that has lost the enthusiasm it once used t carry on the field. They will depend on Paul Stirling for fireworks at the top of the innings with William Porterfield, Ed Joyce, Niall O'Brien, Kevin O'Brien and Andy Balbernie chipping in.
Even Gary Wilson at 7 is no mug with the bat, giving Ireland a pretty long batting lineup. Whether they can translate this potential on paper to performances in the middle remains to be seen.
Boyd Rankin and Georg Dockrell will lead the bowling attack with support from Tim Murtagh and Peter Chase. Ireland can be a handful if they utilize their home conditions and play some smart cricket.
Fans are often left scratching their heads when they see West Indies cricket in this current state where they are most likely going to have to play for qualification into the World Cup. After all, this is the same team that dominates T20 cricket even now and many of the same players play the ODI’s as well.
The return of experienced stalwarts like Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor should give the West Indies a big boost while the latest exploits of Evin Lewis in the CPL, Shai Hope in the test series against England and Jason Mohammad with an excellent series against India raise the possibility of the West Indies once again raising their standard of play in the ODI format.
Most of the focus of the crowd will be on Chris Gayle but it could be Evin Lewis that provides the real fireworks. He already has two T20 hundreds against India and near well scored the 2nd
quickest T20 hundred of all time just a week or so ago in the CPL.
Marlon Samuels is also a very experienced campaigner but he and Gayle are not the fittest players in the side. In fact, both of them can sometimes end up being liabilities in the field and cost the West Indies much more than they end up providing.
This West Indies can get into serious trouble if they lose a couple of wickets early because their middle order of Jason Mohammad, Jason Holder and Rovman Powell is in experienced and potentially prone to a collapse.
The bowling should be able to overpower the Irish batting but they will need to be disciplined and avoid giving away potential no-balls.
Pitch and Conditions
The pitch at Belfast is usually good for batting after the initial movement with the new ball has died down. Both teams will want to keep wickets intact and then capitalize in the latter overs. Rain is almost certain to interrupt proceedings multiple times on match day.
West Indies to win