Balbirnie-inspired Ireland post big total, but West Indies too good in the run chase
May 11th 2019 by Andrew Blair White | International
DUBLIN – A Sunil Ambris-led run chase allowed the West Indies to chase down 328 to pick up their second victory over Ireland in the Walton ODI Tri-Series out in Malahide.
Ambris scored a quite brilliant 148, and was partnered by good supporting knocks from Roston Chase, Jonathan Carter and Jason Holder on the visitor’s way to victory.
Earlier, Andrew Balbirnie had scored a scintillating century of his own and was the mainstay of the Ireland innings as they made a competitive 327-5 from their 50 overs. Balbirnie scored 135 from 124 balls and registered his fourth One-Day International hundred, passing 3,000 runs for Ireland in the process.
Ireland had opted to bat first on what looked a good Malahide pitch. James McCollum, opening for the first time for Ireland, fell early edging off Sheldon Cottrell for 5. Paul Stirling and Balbirnie then went about rebuilding the innings. Stirling was watchful early, benefitting from a dropped catch when only on 10. He made sure to make the West Indies pay when occasionally showing us some vintage Paul Stirling cuts and drives square of the wicket.
Balbirnie, who looked comfortable from minute one, put on 146 for the second wicket with Stirling. However, with Stirling on 77, he hooked a Shannon Gabriel bouncer straight into the hands of fine leg. William Porterfield fell soon after for 3, however, Kevin O’Brien proved to be the perfect foil for Balbirnie, who continued to push along at a run a ball before completing his hundred off his hundredth ball.
Balbirnie and O’Brien then decided to push for more runs in the last fifteen overs having passed 200. Balbirnie hoisted two sixes over mid-wicket in his attempts to continue upping the run-rate. He eventually departed for 135 when attempting one hit too many off Jonathan Carter and holing out for 135. His knock was very well received by the home crowd and was given a well-deserved standing ovation coming off the pitch.
Image: Balbirnie and Stirling put on 146 for the second wicket
The wicket didn’t yield Ireland’s progress though - Mark Adair was promoted up the order to join O’Brien for the last six overs with 257 on the board. O’Brien, who had batted with great intent from the off, deposited Jason Holder for three sixes in a row in the 48th over. The former had his revenge when O’Brien scooped one to short fine leg to depart for a fine 60 off 43 balls.
There was still two overs left in the innings Adair, who has already shown himself as being a more than useful middle-order batsman at this level, was not done with yet. He contributed a more than useful 25 not out from 13 balls, including a big six over mid-wicket from the final ball of the innings.
At half time, Ireland would have been content with 327 on the board, which seemed a very competitive total.
Ireland would have been looking for quick wickets to start the run chase, but the West Indies started with good intent. Shai Hope, who is has been in terrific form in this series and Sunil Ambris played with great fluency from an early stage and put Ireland on the back foot. Ambris played the main role as the aggressor, bunting Murtagh and Adair over their head for a selection of boundaries early on. Ambris brought up his fifty up his 43 balls.
The West Indies had reached 84 in the thirteenth over without much worry when Shai Hope cut to point off Boyd Rankin where James McCollum took a good diving catch. Ireland was able to briefly stem the flow of runs with Darren Bravo at the crease, Paul Stirling especially bowled very tightly in his four-over spell. The tight period of play for Ireland yielded another wicket when Bravo chipped lazily to long off for 17.
Ambris continued to fire though in a fluid style. He combined with Roston Chase, who was more than happy to play second fiddle, and the two constantly found ways of going at or above the required run rate at all times. Ambris brought up his maiden One-Day International hundred in 89 balls with a punched single to a joyous West Indies changing room.
Just when it looked like the West Indies were cantering to victory, Josh Little rattled one through Chase’s defences to knock back his leg stump. It might have been different at the end if the massive appeal against Jonathan Carter first ball had been given. When Ambris guided a Rankin lifter to short third man for 148, Ireland looked like they might have a small little window back into the game.
The West Indies captain, Jason Holder came to join the now composed, Carter and they went about knocking off the rest of the runs with a lot of authority. They both hit crucial boundaries at times when they needed and despite Holder sending one skyward and departing with one run to win, the West Indies chased down the required 328 with thirteen balls to spare.
Andrew Balbirnie said after the game:
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, we felt that we got it right with the bat today and we were good with the ball last week, we need to just try to put them all together.”
“I’ve felt good for the last two games and found myself getting out weirdly, I felt quite good in training and that I was moving quite well so to be able to put on a big score as a team, as a batting group was very pleasing.”
“We’ve played a bit hot and cold of late. I thought we got it right with the bat today, and I thought we got it right with the ball last week, so it’s a matter of combining both and put them both together to put us over the line.”
Giving credit to his teammate Balbirnie, after the match Paul Stirling said:
“He [Balbirnie] is in brilliant form - he’s a lot more positive than he has been in the past where he is now coming out at number three and hitting the fielders quite hard in the first 10 balls, which is a good sign.”
Ireland will need to beat Bangladesh next week and hope results go their way to advance to the Final of this Tri-Series.
SCORECARD IN BRIEF
Ireland v West Indies, one-day international, 11 May 2019, Malahide Cricket Club
• Ireland 327-5 (50 overs; A Balbirnie 135, P Stirling 77, K O’Brien 60; Gabriel 2-47)
• West Indies 331-5 (47.5 overs; S Ambris 148, Chase 46; Rankin 3-65)
West Indies won by 5 wickets
A full scorecard can be found here.