'You want to make history': Ireland target series win over West Indies after dramatic T20 victory
Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie is targeting an historic series success after his side's dramatic final ball win over the West Indies on Thursday.
The tourists secured only their second ever T20 victory over the Windies, fired on by Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien's record-breaking opening partnership.
Stirling and O'Brien put on a 154 run stand, Ireland's highest ever partnership in this format, having totted up a world record 93 in the opening six over powerplay.
Only two of the remaining six batsmen to take to the crease made it to double figures, limiting Ireland to 208.
The West Indies looked well place to make their target but a slowing run rate left the outcome down to the final over, with the hosts requiring 13 to win.
Ireland's 20-year-old left-arm fast bowler Josh Little had ball in hand and, taking two wickets, managed to see out the final ball win.
For the recently appointed skipper, it's a victory that should be used to target a first ever series win over the West Indies to kick of a year that will see Ireland go to the T20 World Cup in Australia.
“That’s the message I’m going to say to the group, it’s great to get a win obviously but you want to win a series and make history so if we can do that in the next two games, we’ll go home very happy,” said Balbirnie, who had been on the opposite end of last over drama in the tour's second one day international last week.
“Obviously everyone is ecstatic, we came so close in that second ODI and it maybe affected us a bit in our third ODI. So to show the bottle and come out against one of the top teams in T20 cricket and get a win was great for the vibe of the team.”
Opening batsman Stirling top scored with 95, denied a first international T20 century.
“It was probably as good as I’ve ever seen Paul bat in T20 cricket," said Balbirnie. "He’s a world-class player at this level, he’s played all around the world and he’s such an important player for us in all forms of cricket.
“He leads from the front and he did that today, himself and Kevin (O'Brien) set that platform up for us to be able to get such a good score.”
It's not the first time Stirling has starred in an upset against the Windies, also top scoring for Ireland during their four wicket win at the 2015 Cricket World cup.
"It was a really good pitch," the batsman reflected. "We felt we were in the game the whole way through. It was touch and go, but we're enjoying the tight games - we came out the right side this time, so it's a nice feeling.
"I think there's a huge difference in mindset between T20 and ODI opening. Here you have the chance to express yourself and really have fun, playing cricket as you did as a youngster and how you really want to play."
Ireland will now travel from Grenada to Saint Kitts and Nevis, where the final two T20 matches will be played on Saturday and Sunday (beginning at 10pm GMT).
Belfast Telegraph Digital