WI made a winning start to the year, keeping a fighting Irish side at bay in the opening ODI of the three-match series in Jamaica on January 8. Calypso Kings took an important 1-0 lead over the tourists and also earned themselves 10 crucial points in the ICC Super League.
Winning the toss and opting to bowl first, Ireland had West Indies on the mat at 62/4. But this is when the home side found their saviours with the bat in Shamarh Brooks and skipper Kieron Pollard. The duo put on 155 runs for the fifth-wicket stand, with Brooks making an impressive 93 and Pollard finishing with another counterattacking 69.
Brooks missed out on a century playing his maiden ODI for the West Indies but will be mighty pleased to have helped his side recover from trouble waters along with the captain as they took the hosts to a fighting 269.
In a scorecard perfectly reflective of the batting performance, opener Shai Hope (29) was the only one other than Brooks and Pollard to make it past the 20-run mark. But Ireland, too, didn’t have an easy time with the bat as they eventually fell 24 runs short of the target.
Skipper Andy Balbirnie (71) and young Harry Tector (53) batted with fine composure to guide their team for the first 40 overs of the run-chase. At one stage, Ireland were 165/1, looking like favourites to clinch a victory. But then the wickets of Balbirnie and Tector at quick intervals paved the way for a middle and lower-order collapse.
Ireland gave West Indies an opening they could ill-afford, and the hosts pounced on it with both hands. George Dockrell made a 25-ball 30 at No.7 after Andy McBrine had gone retired hurt with 34. But there was no one to play a substantial knock in the Irish middle-order, which would’ve taken the team through.
Alzarri Joseph (3/55), Romario Shepherd (3/50) and Odean Smith (2/26) were amongst the wickets for Windies, as were Mark Adair (3/38), Craig Young (3/56) for Ireland. In the end, it was the middle-order collapse Ireland suffered that made all the difference.
West Indies 269/10 in 48.5 overs (Brooks 93, Pollard 69; Adair 3/38) beat Ireland 245/10 in 49.1 overs (Balbirnie 71, Tector 53; Shepherd 3/50) by 24 runs