Kingston – Pacers Romario Shepherd and Alzarri Joseph shared six wickets and earned West Indies a 24-run win over Ireland in the first One-day International on Saturday in Jamaica after Shamarh Brooks narrowly missed out on a hundred on debut.
Shepherd ended with 3-50 from nine overs and Joseph grabbed 3-55 from his allotted 10 overs, and the Windies bowled the Irish out for 245 in 49.1 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series being played at Sabina Park.
West Indies met defiance when Ireland, chasing 270 for victory, reached 165 for one after 36 overs with their captain Andy Balbirnie leading the way with 71 and Harry Tector scoring 53.
Once they fell in the space of eight balls however, Shepherd and Joseph carved up the lower order to hand the Windies victory in a series that forms part of qualification for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 India.
Hometown pacer Odean Smith formalised the win when he got last man Josh Little caught at deep mid-wicket for a one-ball duck to give West Indies 10 points in the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League that directly qualifies seven teams to CWC 2023 India.
The Windies, on 50 points, moved up to fifth in the 13-team table with five wins out of their 10 matches, and Ireland, on the same number of points, hang onto fourth place with a superior net run rate after four wins and two no-results from their 16 matches.
Earlier in the match, which was played behind closed doors at Sabina Park because of health and safety concerns related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Brooks hit a typically silky 93 that earned him the Player-of-the-Match award.
The 33-year-old, one of three ODI newcomers for West Indies, hit nine fours and three sixes from 89 balls, and the hosts were bowled out for 269 in 48.5 after they were sent in to bat.
West Indies captain Kieron Pollard supported with 69 from 66 balls that included four fours and four sixes, three off sucessive balls from off-spinner Andy McBrine in the 37th over, and put on a record 155 for the fifth wicket with Brooks.
The pair rescued the Windies from a wobbly 62 for four in the 19th over, after the top order struggled for fluency against disciplined bowling from the Ireland attack, which exploited the early moisture in the pitch.
When Pollard was caught at long-on off Craig Young, top-edging a pull, West Indies were 217 for five with 50 balls remaining – but the last five wickets fell for 31 in the span of 24 balls.
Mark Adair was the pick of the Irish bowlers, taking 3-38 from 8.5 overs, fellow pacer Young ended with 3-56 from nine overs, and McBrine finished with 2-52 from eight overs.
The second match is on Tuesday at the same venue.
West Indies 269 all out off 48.5 overs (Shamarh Brooks 93, Kieron Pollard 69, Shai Hope 29, Odean Smith 18, Nicholas Pooran 13, Jason Holder 13; Mark Adair 3-38, Craig Young 3-56, Andy McBrine 2-52).
Ireland 245 all out off 49.1 overs (Andy Balbirnie 71, Harry Tector 53, Andy McBrine 34 retired hurt, George Dockrell 30, Mark Adair 21; Romario Shepherd 3-50, Alzarri Joseph 3-55, Odean Smith 2-26).