Rovman Powell struck his maiden One-Day International (ODI) century to help the West Indies beat Ireland by 52 runs and book a place in the Super Six stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 on Saturday. Meanwhile, hosts Zimbabwe maintained their unbeaten run with 89-run victory over Hong Kong to also progress to the next stage of the tournament while Afghanistan saw off Nepal to keep their slim hopes alive. Powell scored a dazzling 101, including seven fours and as many sixes to lift the Windies from a precarious 83 for five to 257 for eight.
Powell and captain Jason Holder strung together a 86-run stand for the sixth wicket to help their team reach 257 for eight in 50 overs. Holder played a crucial knock of 54 off 71 balls, including three fours and a six.
Kemar Roach took four for 27 as Ireland lost wickets at regular intervals to end up on the losing side.
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.
(With AFP Inputs)