KInGSTON - Despite producing a far from smooth performance, West Indies held themselves together well enough with bat and ball to overcome Ireland by four wickets at Sabina Park. After restricting the visitors to 202, contrasting half-centuries from Dwayne Smith and Kieran Powell set the base in the chase, and West Indies finished with more than 13 overs to spare
Smith, who was only drafted in for this match and for the games to follow against England because Chris Gayle had a back problem, did a passable impression of the man he was replacing by clubbing 55 off 53 balls in an opening stand of 100 with Powell. Playing his first ODI since December 2012, Smith hit the first two deliveries of the innings for four and later added three sixes before getting an outside edge off Stuart Thompson.
Ireland took the chance to bring themselves back into the contest by removing Kirk Edwards and Darren Bravo as West Indies lost 3 for 8, but the captain Dwayne Bravo quelled their excitement with a boundary-filled 35 while Powell played at his own pace to bring up a controlled half-century from 72 balls.
Dwayne Bravo was showing the form that brought him 217 runs in the one-day series against New Zealand last month, but just when he was seemingly taking West Indies to their target in a hurry, he was superbly caught on the cover boundary. Neither could Powell finish the job, being stumped off Paul Stirling, but the flying start provided by the openers meant West Indies were not under any run-rate pressure and although Denesh Ramdin went lbw, Marlon Samuels finished the game with a flurry of boundaries. The spinners, George Dockrell and Paul Stirling, tried their best to haul in the innings and did enough to suggest Ireland had not been too far away from a very competitive total.
William Porterfield opted to take first use of the pitch, perhaps expecting it to get slower like the T20 surfaces did, and lost his opening partner Stirling in the third over when he was bowled by an excellent delivery from Jason Holder. After that, however, Ireland accumulated steadily in the opening Powerplay as Porterfield and Ed Joyce worked themselves into the 20s only to fail to convert.
Porterfield became a maiden international wicket for Miguel Cummins, the 23-year Barbados fast bowler making his debut, when he was caught down the leg side during an over that had included three consecutive no-balls, with two of resulting free hits being hit for six by Porterfield.
Joyce drove Dwayne Bravo to mid-off and Niall O'Brien, who had been brought into the side after missing the T20s, became Bravo's second wicket shortly afterwards to leave Ireland uneasy on 78 for 4. Niall's brother, Kevin, helped steady the innings alongside Gary Wilson, the Surrey wicketkeeper-batsman, as the pair added 45 in 11.3 overs but two quick wickets for Nikita Miller put Ireland on the back foot again heading into the final stage of the innings.
Wilson played a controlled knock, aware that Ireland's first priority was to use up their overs. He struck just three boundaries in his 96-ball stay but engineered a stand of 61 in 10.4 overs with Thompson. Ireland may have had visions of a total approaching 220 but could not quite find a final push for the innings as the last four wickets fell for nine runs after Wilson sliced Darren Sammy to point.
For Ireland attention now switches to the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh although they will leave the Caribbean with the nagging thought that with a little more from their batting they could have gained greater success. West Indies, meanwhile, move into a three-ODI series against England in Antigua before Twenty20 preparation against them in Barbados.
W Porterfield c Ramdin b Cummins 25
P Stirling b Holder 4
E Joyce c Holder b DJ Bravo 25
N O'Brien c Ramdin b DJ Bravo 12
G Wilson c Edwards b Sammy 62
K O'Brien c & b Miller 22
A Poynter c Ramdin b Miller 3
S Thompson c Powell b Holder 33
M Sorensen b Holder 1
G Dockrell c & b DJ Bravo 1
T Murtagh not out 2
EXTRAS: (lb2, w7, nb3) 12
TOTAL: (all out; 49.2 overs) 202
FOW: 1-6, 2-54, 3-69, 4-78, 5-123, 6-132, 7-193, 8-198, 9-199, 10-202
BOWLING: J Holder 9-1-34-3, M Cummins 6-1-42-1, DJ Bravo 9.2-0-36-3, D Sammy 8-0-29-1, N Miller 10-0-30-2, M Samuels 7-0-29-0
D Smith c Wilson b Thompson 55
K Powell st Wilson b Stirling 57
K Edwards run out 2
DM Bravo c Wilson b Thompson 1
DJ Bravo c Thompson b Sorensen 35
D Ramdin lbw b Dockrell 15
M Samuels not out 26
D Sammy not out 1
EXTRAS: (lb5, w8) 13
TOTAL: (6 wkts; 36.4 overs) 205
FOW: 1-100, 2-105, 3-108, 4-160, 5-172, 6-190
BOWLING: M Sorensen 4-0-34-1, T Murtagh 6-1-41-0, G Dockrell 9.4-1-48-1, P Stirling 10-2-42-1, K O'Brien 3-0-18-0, S Thompson 4-0-17-2