Andy Balbirnie was within millimetres of recording his first victory as Ireland skipper only to see it twice slip away as the West Indies won a thrilling second one-day international by one wicket with a ball to spare in Barbados.

The iconic Kensington Oval has seen few finishes to match the final over of a pulsating 50-overs match as Mark Adair steamed in with the West Indies' last pair needing five to win and nerves getting the better of both sides.

After a single from the first two balls, Ireland thought they had won when a superb stop and throw to the bowler by Gary Wilson appeared to have run out Sheldon Cottrell but after deliberating for minutes the third umpire ruled that Adair had broken the stumps with his hand.

It was a verdict that could have gone either way, but without the bowler having control of the ball the benefit of doubt correctly went to the batsman, and Ireland immediately suffered another fumble as a throw came in from the deep with both batsmen at the same end.

Last man Cottrell ended the contest next up with a massive blow for six over extra cover, leaving the Boys in Green to wonder what might have been as the home side took a winning 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Paul Stirling got Ireland off to a good start with a solid 63, after new skipper Balbirnie had won his second toss in as many games, and William Porterfield, playing his 300th game, helped build a useful platform of 121-3 after 25 overs, on a wearing pitch.

The innings then lost its way, despite a breezy 31 from Kevin O’Brien and it needed Simi Singh to make a gritty 34 and Barry McCarthy to clear the ropes from the last ball of the 50th to lift Ireland to a defendable total of 237-9.

Singh, playing his best game in an Ireland shirt, then followed through with 3-49, fellow off-spinner Andy McBrine took 2-37 and Pembroke all-rounder McCarthy was probably the pick of the bunch with 2-28 from a testing 10 overs.

At 148-7, the West Indies looked beaten but the edges and chips would just not go to hand as Hayden Walsh pulled his side back into contention only for Ireland to twice let the victory slip at the very end.

The third ODI is in Grenada on Sunday.