Ireland flattered to deceive in the first Twenty 20 international against West Indies as they went down by 31 runs after the Caribbean stars scored 80 off the last six overs at the Trelawny Stadium last night.
Yet, West Indies — minus only their Indian Premier League players and including nine of their World Twenty 20 squad — were 63 for four after 14 overs as Kevin O’Brien, Trent Johnston and Paul Stirling combined to give Ireland a dream start.
But Gary Kidd, Saturday’s bowling hero in the win against Jamaica at the same ground, could not follow up and when his second over, which included two full tosses above waist height, went for 13 the wheels came off.
Andrew White, the fourth spinner to be used by captain William Porterfield, was hit for successive sixes from his first two balls and although he had top scorer Narsinghe Deonarine caught on the mid-wicket boundary from his fifth ball for 40, the over still cost 17.
Alex Cusack came on in the 18th over but even he suffered, as 17 more came off the over and another 15 off the last, including a huge six by Ravi Rampaul.
Yet, it was all so different when the match got under way. Ireland were forced to make a late change to their intended line-up when Andre Botha passed himself unfit in the warm-up and White replaced him.
George Dockrell and Kevin O’Brien were the other players to come in with Nigel Jones again missing out. Boyd Rankin watched from the dressing room.
He must have been impressed by what he saw as Johnston (below) struck in the second over, having Andre Fletcher caught low down at cover and Kevin O’Brien, bowling Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the next over.
When Johnston had Ramnaresh Sarwan plumb in front, West Indies were 10 for three and could take no chances as they built their recovery.
Only one wicket fell in the next 12 overs — Darren Bravo stumped off the impressive Stirling who conceded just 13 runs in his four overs — but with wickets in hand it was the West Indies who ensured they were in control at halfway.
When William Porterfield (0), Niall O’Brien (3) and Gary Wilson (3) were all dismissed in the first four overs, it was a long way back for Ireland. Porterfield, after two ‘dot’ balls chased a wide one from Rampaul, O’Brien was bowled behind his legs by big Sulieman Benn, who opened the bowling, and in his second over had Wilson stumped.
With all three county players back in the pavilion it was left to Paul Stirling (25) and Andrew White (16) to lead the recovery but although they were four runs in front with six overs remaining, Ireland again found boundaries hard to come by, scoring just four in the last 10 overs, three of them to Trent Johnston who finished 28 not out.
Scores: West Indies 143-8 (N Deonarine 40, D Sammy 28, W Hinds 21; T Johnston 2-19) Ireland 112-7 (T Johnston 28, P Stirling 25; S Benn 2-12, D Sammy 2-15, R Rampaul 2-19).
West Indies won by 31 runs.