Ireland narrowly missed out on a historic series victory over Twenty20 world champions West Indies in Sabina Park last night, Phil Simmons’ men falling to an 11-run defeat.
Ireland won the first game of the two-match series in Jamaica by six wickets on Wednesday, but were unable to achieve their target of becoming the first associate nation to secure a series win over a major cricketing nation as they failed to chase down a gettable target of 97.
Darren Sammy’s bowlers tied up the Ireland batsmen in the chase, and the visitors finished their innings on 85-8.
After winning the toss and electing to field in Kingston, Jamaica, Ireland restricted the home side to 96-9, with the world champions striking just four boundaries.
The Irish attack stuck to a pre-arranged gameplan, with Alex Cusack (4-11 from 4 overs) bowling back-of-the-hand deliveries short of a length, denying the West Indian batsmen the room to swing across the line.
The fielders backed up the bowling attack brilliantly, with Ireland captain William Porterfield effecting two great run-outs.
Kevin O’Brien also produced an accurate spell of four overs for 16, which included the wicket of Trinidad-born Ireland coach Phil Simmons’ nephew Lendl.
Ireland were strong favourites at the halfway point, but their batsmen were unable to chase down the 97 needed from 120 balls as the West Indies bowlers mirrored Porterfield’s tactics on a slow pitch.
Ireland lost star batsmen Paul Stirling (2) and Ed Joyce (10) early in the reply, and the spin of T20 world number one bowler Sunil Narine (1-12) and Samuel Badree (1-13) then strangled the lower order batsmen.
Gary Wilson (35) played a holding innings as the wickets tumbled around him, but when he was out in the 18th over trying to increase the run rate, Ireland’s last recognised batsman had gone and the West Indies completed the victory to tie the series 1-1.
Ireland will face the West Indies in a 50-over one-day international at the same venue tomorrow, then they travel to Bangladesh for the ICC WorldTwenty 20 in March.
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