(AFP) — Rovman Powell’s maiden one-day international hundred dragged the West Indies from a difficult position to beat Ireland in Harare on Saturday and reach the Super Six stage of World Cup qualifying.
Hosts Zimbabwe also booked their spot in the next round by making it three wins from three in Group B with a comfortable victory over Hong Kong, while Afghanistan saw off Nepal to keep their slim hopes alive.
Powell helped the West Indies reach 257-8 off their 50 overs, before the two-time World Cup winners took regular wickets to secure a 52-run victory, with Kemar Roach claiming 4-27.
The Caribbean outfit can seal the maximum four points to carry into the Super Six round when they play the Netherlands in their final Group A game on Monday, when Ireland will have to beat the United Arab Emirates to be sure of progression.
Only two teams from the qualifiers will join the world’s top eight ODI nations at next year’s World Cup in England and Wales.
After losing the toss and being put in to bat, the Windies slipped to 83-5 as veteran seamer Tim Murtagh took the crucial early wickets of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels.
But captain Jason Holder, who hit a match-winning 99 not out in Thursday’s win over Papua New Guinea, combined with Powell in a sixth-wicket stand of 86 before falling to Murtagh for 54.
The 24-year-old Powell took his time to get in as he reached nine off only 34 balls, but exploded into life late in his innings, muscling seven fours and as many maximums before being caught behind off Murtagh for a run-a-ball 101.
Roach impressed with the ball in Ireland’s reply as William Porterfield’s men struggled to 32-3, but a well-compiled 63 from Ed Joyce gave the Irish hope.
The former England opener holed out to Roach, though, and medium-pacer Kesrick Williams ran through the tail to finish with figures of 4-43, as Ireland fell short in their attempt to replicate their win over the West Indies in the 2015 World Cup.
– Zimbabwe continue good form –
Zimbabwe were seen as outsiders to reach the World Cup before qualifying got underway, but Hamilton Masakadza struck 84 as they thrashed Hong Kong by 89 runs for a third straight triumph.
Hong Kong, who will reach the Super Six with victory over Nepal on Monday after stunning Afghanistan, bowled well to restrict Zimbabwe to 263-9 in Bulawayo.
But all-rounder Sikandar Raza continued his excellent form by taking 3-30 with his off-spin as Hong Kong fell well short.
Afghanistan need an unlikely run of results in their favour to stay in contention for a World Cup place, but at least finished their Group B campaign with a six-wicket win over Nepal.
Stand-in skipper Rashid Khan took 3-45 and Mohammad Nabi 4-33 as Nepal were bowled out for just 194, and an unbeaten 52 from Najibullah Zadran finally got Afghanistan their first points at the fourth time of asking.
The other game saw the Netherlands beat Papua New Guinea by 57 runs, but the Dutch need to beat the Windies and hope Ireland lose to the UAE to have any chance of going through.