West Indies 184 for 5 (Lewis 99*, King 20, Simi 2-44) beat Ireland 180 (Tucker 31, Adair 29, Joseph 4-32, Walsh 2-30, Cottrell 2-39) by five wickets
Evin Lewis fell agonisingly short of a hundred, but his immaculate unbeaten 99, which followed Alzarri Joseph’s feisty four-for, helped a dominant West Indies brush Ireland aside in the first ODI in Bridgetown. Batting on 93 with three required for a win, the opener managed to slice one wide of third man for two runs. That left a straightforward equation – a six to win the match as well as get his hundred. Lewis managed to smoke the length ball that followed, but it landed a few metres short of the extra-cover boundary and left him on 99 as West Indies took a 1-0 lead.
Lewis’ innings was nearly chanceless. He began solidly, offering a vertical bat as much as possible on a good batting surface that showed glimpses of being slow every now and again. The only chance he offered, a chip against Mark Adair in the ninth over, was put down by Kevin O’Brien lunging low at mid-off. Either side of that ball, Lewis bludgeoned short pitched bowling from the medium-pacer.
That early plan to put away horizontal-bat shots was a theme throughout for Lewis, whose other highlights were blistering drives through extra cover, and nonchalant lofts over mid-off against the spinners. Occasionally he brought out the sweep – such as when he brought up his fifty – and, in a short chase, he anchored the innings without compromising on his scoring rate.
In his company, all batsmen made starts without building on them. Brandon King struggled in a 71-run partnership as Ireland cramped him for room, Shimron Hetmyer lasted eight balls before top-edging a slog sweep, and Nicholas Pooran played one of the shots of the match – a glorious straight hit that slammed the edge of the roof – before finding backward point with a cut. Roston Chase, West Indies’ new ODI floater, brought calm after a middle-order wobble and took West Indies to within three runs of victory before falling.
Shai Hope had begun in similarly pristine fashion to Lewis, but Adair had his revenge after being hit for two fours, hurrying him with a short ball that he sliced high in the midwicket region where William Porterfield took a diving catch running backwards.
That wicket was something of an extension of the first innings, when Joseph and Sheldon Cottrell made effective use of a bouncy pitch that was on the slower side.
Ireland’s top three pulled and hooked well against the new ball as West Indies kept their lengths on the shorter side. The extra time because of the surface’s slow pace helped in that regard, but as the lacquer progressively went out, horizontal-bat shots became tougher. Paul Stirling was at his flowing best, piercing the off side early on, and got great connection on his pull shot against Joseph in his first over, but he couldn’t keep it down. At midwicket, Pollard took an easy catch.
Andy Balbirinie, who had won the toss in his first match as ODI captain, played three pristine shots within minutes of coming in – one a drive through the covers, one watchful pull caressed to fine leg, and a gorgeous hook for six. But Pollard’s gamble with the offspin of Chase inside the Powerplay worked immediately. Balbrinie reached out, first ball of the tenth over, and got a thin edge as the ball held its line. Hope held onto the first of his four catches behind the stumps.
The free-flowing nature of the innings stopped there. Debutant allrounder Gareth Delaney, who was picked to open ahead of James McCollum, was next to fall, getting an inside edge trying to pull Joseph’s back-of-a-length delivery after a sustained period of dot balls, and moments after a mix-up had nearly ended Porterfield’s innings at the non-strikers end.
In his next over, Joseph pinned Kevin O’Brien deep in the crease trying to flick a full ball, and Cottrell returned shortly after to find Porterfield’s outside edge with a short delivery outside off that he appeared too eager to cut. Ireland were 80 for 5 at that point, and slipped to 88 for 6 when Simi Singh was strangled down leg side.
Twenty-three-year-old wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker, who played ahead of Gary Wilson, then dug in with Mark Adair for just over 13 overs. They weren’t extravagant in putting up the only half-century stand of the innings, but at just over four an over, they didn’t open up the danger of a complete slowdown. But two balls after the drinks break, Adair jumped down the track to a length ball from Hayden Walsh that was delivered from well behind the crease and ended up being beaten in flight completely. Joseph got another one to kick up from the surface in his last over to account for Tucker, and might have had a fifth wicket if Barry McCarthy hadn’t had the option to overturn an lbw decision using DRS.
There was one final bit of resistance from the lower order, with McCarthy and Boyd Rankin adding 30 for the last wicket. But they could only stretch the score to 180, which didn’t prove nearly enough as the hosts won with a third of their overs to spare. (ESPNCricinfo)