Melbourne: Paul Stirling smashed a glittering half-century as Ireland eliminated twice champions West Indies from the T20 World Cup and advanced to the Super 12 phase with a nine-wicket thrashing in Hobart on Friday.
The burly redhead's unbeaten 66 from 48 balls helped Ireland mow down a modest total of 146 for five with 15 balls to spare on a cloudy afternoon at Bellerive Oval.
Brandon King scored an unbeaten 62 for the West Indies but had little support as the Caribbeans made their earliest exit from the global showpiece since the inaugural 2007 tournament in South Africa.
"It's tough. We haven't batted well this tournament at all and on a really good batting surface, coming here making 145 was really difficult," said West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran.
"In saying that, congratulations to Ireland. I think they batted fantastically and they bowled well today." Ireland all-rounder Gareth Delany sucked the wind out of the West Indies' batsmen, capturing 3-16 with his legspin in the later middle overs.
"It's obviously an incredible day for us," said Delany, who was named man of the match.
"We're ecstatic about what we're going to be able to do over the next few weeks." The West Indies knew their total was below par but were powerless to defend it as Stirling and captain Andy Balbirnie stormed to a 73-run opening partnership before Balbirnie was caught cutting for 37.
Number three Lorcan Tucker joined Stirling in the middle and thrashed an unbeaten 45 as the Irish cruised to victory in the Group B qualifier.
Tucker brought up the winning runs in style, dancing down the wicket to smash Obed McCoy over extra cover for four, triggering wild cheers from a smattering of Irish fans.
Though a fixture at World Cups over the past decade, it is only the second time Ireland have made the second round of the T20 tournament, since the last time in England in 2009.
After losing their opener to Zimbabwe, Ireland produced a brilliant chase to beat Scotland on Wednesday and were virtually flawless against the West Indies, the 2012 and 2016 champions.
"It means everything. We had a really disappointing loss last year at the same stage," captain Balbirnie said of the 2021 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
"We did a lot of thinking, a lot of things changed back home.
"Losing the first game (here) and then coming back and beating a two-time champion in a must-win game - just couldn't be prouder.
"We're just delighted as a group." Scotland and Zimbabwe face off in the late match in Hobart, with the winners to join Ireland in the Super 12's.ay.