Phew! Desperate Windies survive scare to level series
WEST Indies, playing without star left-handed batsman Christopher Gayle, evened the two-match Twenty20 (T20) International series with Ireland after edging the visitors by 11 runs yesterday at Sabina Park in Kingston.
The West Indies batsmen put in another lacklustre display — albeit on a testing batting surface — and stumbled to an appalling 96-9 off their allotted 20 overs after the Irish won the toss and chose to bowl.
But regional team captain Darren Sammy won the Man-of-the-Match award after snaring 3-22 off four overs to help restrict Ireland to 85-8.
Scores: West Indies 96-9 (20); Ireland 85-8 (20 overs).
Yesterday's victory meant the West Indies, the world T20 title-holders, avoided a first ever series loss to the lowly-rated Irish, who created history by completing a relatively easy six-wicket win in the opening game on Wednesday.
Sammy was again let down by the batting performance, but said the bowlers and fielders covered that weakness on the day.
"We have not learnt from the first game. We know the wicket was going to be slow and low and we knew the bowlers would take pace off the ball. I wouldn't say it's a sign for concern, but like I said, we got guys who haven't been playing cricket. But it's not an excuse for how we batted in both games.
"Credit to the bowlers for the way they came out and as a fielding group the way we went out and defended a small total," Sammy told reporters after the game.
Ireland captain William Porterfield was pleased that his team drew the series against their more illustrious opponents, but rued missing out on the series win.
"Overall it's good we shared the series, but it was disappointing that after restricting them to 96 on that pitch and then to come and lose by 11 runs. We lost our way with the bat and found it hard to pick the momentum up on the pitch as we lost wickets," Porterfield told the Jamaica Observer.
Earlier, West Indies, without Gayle, who played the opening game after returning from injury, but was left out today after complaints of stiffness in both his lower back and hamstring, made their second lowest T20 score.
Andre Fletcher, brought in for his first game to replace Gayle, top scored with 19 as batsmen struggled for timing on a noticeably slow-paced surface.
As they did in game one, the Irish held to a steady line and length to stifle the misfiring batsmen.
Medium pacer Alex Cusack led the way, grabbing 4-11 for Ireland.
In reply, Gary Wilson (35) top scored for Ireland as West Indies' bowlers and fielders put in a disciplined effort.
Aside from Sammy, left-arm swing bowler Krishmar Santokie, brought in for pacer Ravi Rampaul, ended with 1-12 off four overs. Off-spinner Sunil Narine was also miserly as he finished with identical figures.
The teams meet again tomorrow in a one-off One-Day International at Sabina Park.