Ireland missed out on the opportunity to win a first series against a full-member country as they lost a low-scoring second Twenty20 International against the West Indies by 11 runs in Kingston, Jamaica.
After winning Wednesday's opener by six wickets, Ireland sniffed victory after restricting the defending world T20 champions to 96 for nine in their 20 overs, with Alex Cusack claiming an Irish best four from 11, taking a wicket in each of his four overs.
The West Indies' spinners restricted Ireland 's reply early on, with skipper Darren Sammy taking three middle-order wickets with Gary Wilson keeping Ireland's hopes alive. The Surrey wicket-keeper looked well set but was caught and bowled by Dwayne Bravo in the 18th over when trying to force the pace after making 35 from 39 balls and Ireland's innings finished on 85 for eight.
Ireland were highly impressive on Wednesday in restricting the home side to 116 for eight from their 20 overs, but this was another few notches above as skipper William Porterfield switched his seven bowlers throughout while setting the tone in the field with his usual stellar levels of performance.
Porterfield's first piece of brilliance in the field earned Cusack his second wicket as Dwayne Smith cut to backward point where the Warwickshire player took a fine low catch. At 48 for three after 10 overs, the West Indies still had the opportunity to post a decent score, but Ireland kept the pressure on until the end, with just six boundaries scored in total.
Cusack took wickets in his final two overs, including holding a brilliant caught and bowled in the final over as he finished with figures of four for 11 to better his four for 18 against Sri Lanka during the 2009 World Twenty20 at Lord's.
Meanwhile, centuries from AB de Villiers and JP Duminy helped South Africa dominate day two of the second Test in Port Elizabeth as the home side made 423 in their first innings before reducing Australia to 112 for four at stumps.
Dwayne Smith c Porterfield b Cusack 11
A Fletcher c Wilson b Cusack 19
M Samuels c Wilson b Thompson 10
L Simmons lbw b K O’Brien 12
Dwayne Bravo run out 10
A Russell b Murtagh 8
D Sammy run out 2
D Ramdin c Sorensen b Cusack 5
S Narine not out 12
S Badree c&b Cusack 5
K Santokie not out 0
Extras (w2) 2
Total (for 9 wkts, 20 ovs) 96
Fall of wickets: 1-27, 2-30, 3-44, 4-58, 5-69, 6-73, 7-74, 8-84, 9-93
Bowling: M Sorensen 3-0-20-0; T Murtagh 4-0-22-1; G Dockrell 3-0-14-0; A Cusack 4-1-11-4; S Thompson 1-0-9-1; P Stirling 1-0-4-0; K O'Brien 4-0-16-1.
W Porterfield b Badree 5
P Stirling b Santokie 2
E Joyce c Sammy b Narine 10
G Wilson c&b Bravo 35
A Poynter c Samuels b Sammy 2
K O’Brien c Smith b Sammy 7
S Thompson c Smith b Sammy 7
M Sorensen not out 9
A Cusack run out 8
T Murtagh not out 2
Extras (lb2) 2
Total (for 8 wkts, 20 ovs) 85
Did not bat: G Dockrell
Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-15, 3-22, 4-25, 5-29, 6-49, 7-72, 8-82.
Bowling: K Santokie 4-0-12-1; S Badree 4-1-13-1; S Narine 4-0-12-1; Dwayne Bravo 4-0-24-1; D Sammy 4-0-22-3.
West Indies won by 11 runs to level two-match series.