Riding on a fiery 95 off 47 balls from Paul Stirling on Wednesday, Ireland edged past West Indies by 4 runs in the first T20I of the three-match series played at the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada.
Stirling was declared the Man of the Match for his 47-ball knock, including 6 fours and 8 sixes.
Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie won the toss and elected to bat. Apart from Sirling, Kevin O’Brien’s 48 off 32 balls helped West Indies’ cause. The pair put on 93 runs in the first six overs — a record high team score during the first powerplay in T20I cricket — and went on to strike a 154-run partnership in 12.3 overs. This was a record T20I partnership for Ireland for any wicket, and put the visitors in a commanding position.
Towards the end of the innings, 19 from Gareth Delany and 17 from Gary Wilson helped the Irish end on 208 for 6 — their third-highest team score in T20I cricket.
The Windies batters started all guns blazing, but crucial wickets of Evin Lewis (53) and Shimron Hetmyer (28) in between the chase changed the momentum of the game again.
West Indian captain Kieron Pollard scored 31 runs from just 15 balls, threatening to take the game away from Ireland, but the Irish fielders continued to hold their catches — and their nerves — taking the game into the last over.
Needing 15 from the last over, a seesawing six-balls saw two wickets fall and a six hit, but with five needed from the last ball, Josh Little (3 for 29) delivered a good length ball and Hayden Walsh failed to connect the ball. As a result, Ireland registered their second-ever victory over the West Indies in T20Is and third in white-ball format.
The second match between the sides will be played on Saturday at St. Kitts and Nevis.
Brief Scores: Ireland 208 for 6 (Paul Stirling 95, Kevin O’Brien 48; Dwayne Bravo 2 for 28); West Indies 204 for 7 (Evin Lewis 53, Josh Little 3 for 29)