BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Ireland Men’s cricket team were out-classed by a rampant West Indian side at Warner Park on the island of St. Kitts today, leaving the T20 International series tied 1-1.
Rain had fallen for most of the day, but cleared up in time for the start of play. West Indies captain Kieron Pollard called correctly at the toss and had no hesitation in asking Ireland to bat first. Irish openers Kevin O’Brien (36) and Paul Stirling (11) got away to a flyer, bringing up their 50-partnership in just the fourth over and looking to emulate their record-breaking efforts from the first match of the series.
However, O’Brien was dismissed with the score on 50, caught at long on – his 18-ball knock included six fours, five of which came off successive balls of the third over of Sheldon Cottrell. The rain almost immediately returned, and the Irish momentum was subsequently halted by a 45-minute delay. Soon after play resumed, Stirling was dismissed leaving Ireland at 55-2 at the end of 5 overs – still seemingly well-placed to mount a competitive total.
Captain Andrew Balbirnie (28) and Gareth Delany (6) put on a promising 19-run stand, but then a Pollard-inspired collapse saw Ireland lose 6-34 in six overs. Pollard, who claimed 4-25 in yesterday’s abandoned match, followed up today with 3-17 today, again showing the importance of variation in pace and line in this format of the game. Barry McCarthy (18*) put some respectability in the score, but Ireland’s 138 all out was well below what they would have expected at 50-0 in the fourth over.
Needing an early breakthrough, the Irish bowling unit toiled hard but the Windies openers Lendl Simmons (91* from 40 balls) and Evin Lewis (46 from 25 balls) were in no mood to concede the advantage to the bowlers. The pair plundered the bowling, bringing up the half-century partnership in 5.2 overs, and the century-stand from 9 overs – hitting 13 sixes in the process.
Simi Singh grabbed a consolation wicket at the death, but Simmons brought up the win with a heave over the midwicket boundary, finishing the run chase with 9 wickets and 54 balls to spare. Simmons was named Player of the Match and Kieron Pollard was named Player of the Series.
Balbirnie accepts the defeat
For Ireland, the end of a tough tour saw them win only one match, but there were many positive moments for the young side – as captain Andrew Balbirnie said after the match:
“We were outclassed in all facets today – we started very well, as we have in most the games, but when you lose wickets you lose momentum. We had a few soft dismissals, which is hugely disappointing because we came into this match firing and we simply didn’t put in a performance today. But to draw a series against the West Indies, we can take positives from that.”
“We’ve had a lot of young guys come out and play their first series against a big nation – like Harry Tector, Gareth Delany – so it’s great to give them that exposure. Obviously, in T20 all of our cricket is leading up to that World T20 and getting out of that Group Stage. Look, the guys are hurting but they’ll learn from it, so that is all you can ask.”
Ireland v West Indies, 3rd T20 International, St Kitts, 19 January 2020
Ireland 138 (19.1 overs; K O’Brien 36; K Pollard 3-17)
West Indies 140-1 (11 overs; L Simmons 91*; S Singh 1-41)
West Indies won by 9 wickets
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