West Indies chase down Ireland despite fine knock from Balbirnie
Ireland’s highest ODI total against a full member side on home soil not quite enough
Andrew Balbirnie scored a fine century in a losing cause against the West Indies. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
West Indies 331-5 (SW Ambris 148, B Rankin 3-65) beat Ireland 327-5 (A Balbirnie 135, P Stirling 77, S Gabriel 2-47) by five wickets.
The West Indies completed a five-wicket victory over Ireland in the Walton ODI Tri-Series match at Malahide chasing down a target of 328 with 13 balls to spare.
A century from Sunil Ambris (148) did all the damage to and Irish side, who at lunch would have felt they had posted a very competitive total on a pitch that was difficult to bat on at first but got easier.
Earlier, Andrew Balbirnie (135) hit his fourth One Day International century as he displayed a fine array of shots in his run-a-ball century. The 146-run partnership put on by Balbirnie and Paul Stirling (77) for the second wicket, laid the groundwork for a wonderful batting innings from an Irish side who compiled their highest ever ODI score at home against a Full Member.
“I’ve felt good for the last while and I’m moving quite well,” said Balbirnie after the match. “To put on a big score as a batting group is great, for Paul (Stirling) to get his 77 and Kevin (O’Brien) to come in and do what he does so well at the end is brilliant.”
Captain William Porterfield had dropped himself down the order to allow James McCollum to open but unfortunately for the Northern Knights youngster, he fell cheaply. This left Balbirnie and Stirling to compile their imposing partnership, the second highest ever by an Irish pair against a Full Member.
Ireland also displayed some late innings firepower that thrilled the watching fans as Kevin O’Brien (63 off 40) and Mark Adair (25 off 13) contributed to 107 runs coming off the final 10 overs of the innings.
Indeed, when Adair deposited the final delivery of the innings into the stands for six, there was real momentum and energy in the Irish side as they posted 327/5.
“We got it right with the bat today and right with the ball last week, it’s a matter now of combining them both and getting ourselves over the line,” added Balbirnie.
Unfortunately, that momentum dissipated as Ambris and Shai Hope (30) put on 73/0 in the opening ten over powerplay and by the 18th over Porterfield was turning to Paul Stirling hoping he could change the game.
Stirling did snare the wicket of Darren Bravo but Ambris continued undaunted. The opener hitting 19 boundaries and one maximum as he took his side to the verge of their biggest ever run chase.