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Windies close in on quarter-finals

MOHALI, India (Reuters) - West Indies staved off Ireland's spirited challenge for a 44-run win in a Group B match to inch closer to the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Friday.

Ed Joyce (84) and Gary Wilson (61) fought bravely but Ireland could manage only 231 as they lost all their wickets in 49 overs to fall well short of West Indies' total of 275.

Earlier, opener Devon Smith (107) struck his maiden century in one-day internationals but it was Kieron Pollard's stroke-filled 94 off 55 balls that helped West Indies to put behind a sluggish start and post 275 all out in exactly 50 overs.

Smith added 89 runs with Shivnarine Chanderpaul (35) for the opening stand before Pollard joined him in the middle to hit five sixes and eight fours in his belligerent knock.

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

Whatever hopes Ireland, who stunned England in Bangalore earlier this month, had of pulling off their second upset of the tournament vanished when Pollard took a stunning catch to remove the dangerous Kevin O'Brien (5).

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

Put into bat at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, West Indies sent Chanderpaul 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 strapping 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.

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Published March 11, 2011 at 10:08 am (Updated March 11, 2011 at 10:07 am)

Windies close in on quarter-finals

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