Kieron Pollard’s West Indies pulled off a clinical home win against Ireland at Bridgetown by five wickets in the opening game of the three-match series.
Ireland were skittled for 180 after they opted to bat and West Indies rode on an unbeaten half-century from opener Elwin Lewis to chase down the total with five wickets to spare.
Alzarri Joseph – The wrecker-in-chief
After the new ODI skipper Andy Balbirnie opted to bat first, every single batman in the Ireland top-order got starts but failed to convert it to a big score. The 23-year-old pacer, Alzarri Joseph removed both openers, as Paul Stirling and Gareth Delany failed in their attempts to attack short deliveries.
Wickets fell in a heap in the middle overs as the Irish looked lost at the half-way point at 88 for six.
Lorcan Tucker and Mark Adair stopped the bleeding with a neat little lower order partnership but that resistance too was cut short after a 13-over association. The visitors were bowled out for a below par score with 23 deliveries remaining in the innings.
Joseph was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with figures of four for 32. All of his colleagues chipped in with wickets to complete an effective bowling performance.
Evin Lewis spearheads a tricky chase
Opener Evin Lewis’ unbeaten run-a-ball 99 helped his team to a rather comfortable win. While his colleagues threw away starts, he stood tall to lead his team to the target steadily.
The southpaw attacked the bowlers with confidence and raced to a half-century off just 46 deliveries. Kevin O’Brien failed to hold on to a tough chance to dismiss Lewis at mid-off and from there on, the opener took charge of the game. He played some wonderful drives and lofted shots down the ground before unleashing the sweep shot against the off-spin of Simi Singh.
The hosts lost three wickets in quick succession towards the end, but Lewis’ presence at the crease made it impossible for Ireland to stage a comeback.
With 16 overs to go, four runs were needed for a win as Lewis, batting on 95, faced Barry McCarthy. He smashed an over-pitched delivery over extra cover but the ball landed just short of the boundary to leave him unbeaten on 99.
The second of the three-match ODI series will be played on January 9 at the same venue.
West Indies 184/5 (Lewis 99*, King 20, Simi 2-44)
Ireland 180 (Tucker 31, Adair 29, Joseph 4-32, Walsh 2-30, Cottrell 2-39)
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