Friday 17 January 2020

Balbirnie plays part but Irish fail with bat


Andrew Balbirnie. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Andrew Balbirnie. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile Sportsdesk

Andy Balbirnie led from the front with a classy 71 for Ireland in Grenada yesterday, but there was to be no repeat of the drama of Thursday night as the West Indies eased to a five-wicket victory and a 3-0 clean sweep of the one-day international series.

After taking their hosts to the penultimate ball of the second game in Barbados, there were high hopes of Ireland notching a consolation win, but aside from the skipper's half-century, the batting failed to fire and a total of 203 all out was well short of par.

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Whereas pace had been the visitors' downfall in the first two games, this time they were undone by spin, particularly the leggies of Hayden Walsh, who found exaggerated turn and bounce to claim four Ireland wickets.

With the game starting at 8:30 local time, after overnight rain, the West Indies had no hesitation in asking Ireland to bat and early difficulty was seen in big-hitting Paul Stirling taking 23 balls to score five, while reinstated opener James McCollum made 20.

Kevin O'Brien started with two sumptuous cover drives to the boundary but then misjudged the length looking for another and holed out on 21, while Lorcan Tucker showed plenty of enterprise before he was bowled by Walsh for 16.

Balbirnie, meanwhile, went to his 50 from 73 balls and after clearing the mid-wicket boundary with two slog sweeps, the new skipper was threatening a repeat of his 135 against the West Indies in May when he too was deceived into lobbing a catch, to backward point.

Hopes of a competitive total departed with him and although Andy McBrine hooked and pulled his way to 25 not out, his highest ODI score since 2016, the Windies were never troubled as Evin Lewis followed his 99 not out in the first game with a century.

Balbirnie will now need to re-focus his side with the first of three T20 internationals on Thursday.

Irish Independent

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