Paul Stirling's explosive 47-ball 95 helped Ireland to a nail-biting four-run win over West Indies in the first T20I at St George's.
The Ireland opener was brutal in the Powerplay, striking 67 from just 25 balls. In fact, with Ireland putting 93 on the board without losing any wickets, it was the most productive Powerplay in T20I history. Dwayne Bravo, making his return to international cricket after reversing his retirement, was dispatched for 18 in his opening over, summing up West Indies' early state of affairs.
Kevin O'Brien played a more controlled game at the other end as the pair put on a monumental stand of 154 before O'Brien was bowled by Bravo two runs short of his half-century. Rather cruelly, Stirling fell five balls later, five runs short of what would have been a deserved ton.
From there West Indies' bowlers fought back well, and while Ireland started well, Sheldon Cottrell's back-to-back wickets to close the innings summed up the hosts' later dominance, with 55 runs and seven wickets coming from the last seven overs.
The destructive Evin Lewis led the West Indies riposte, with six boundaries and three sixes in his 29-ball return of 53. Starts were made by the entirety of the top six, with skipper Kieron Pollard looking particularly powerful in hitting 31.
We’re all proud of the squad. 😃👍 https://t.co/4jAknJQhhr— Cricket Ireland (@Irelandcricket) January 15, 2020
George Dockrell conceded just two runs in the 17th over, but when Sherfane Rutherford and Nicolas Pooran took apart Barry McCarthy's final over for 27 runs, leaving the equation on 16 needed from 12 balls, West Indies were in the driving seat.
Pooran's dismissal in the penultimate over, with Craig Young conceding just three runs, continued the seesaw. Bravo looked set for an incredible return when he deposited Josh Little for a six with four balls to go, but the left-armer proved difficult to get away otherwise, taking two wickets in the over to help Ireland prevail by four runs and draw first blood in the series.
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