Ireland will have to do something they have never done before if they are to clinch the Twenty20 international series against West Indies when the teams meet in the second game in St Kitts tonight (10pm GMT).
Since their first game at the World T20 in 2009, Ireland have never won back to back games against a Full Member in the shortest format and on the last six occasions when they have won the first game of a T20 tournament or bilateral series, they have lost the second.
The last time they won the first two games of a T20 series was four years ago in Townsville against Papua New Guinea but despite the boost of their thrilling four runs victory in Grenada on Wednesday, it will surely only fire up the West Indies even more for the first of the back to back night games, which conclude Ireland’s Caribbean tour.
The records tumbled in the first game with Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien putting on a Ireland best partnership of 154, the highest conceded by West Indies and Stirling scored 67 himself in the first six overs – no batsmen in any of the 1,028 T20 internationals has scored more – out of the unsurpassed 93 runs in the powerplay.
The fact that Ireland scored only 55 runs in the last eight overs, however, kept West Indies in the game and only a superb fielding display and nerveless bowling at the end by Craig Young and Josh Little gave Ireland victory in a match which went to the last ball.
George Dockrell’s full-length diving catch on the cover boundary to dismiss Lendl Simmons set the standard and Gareth Delany’s at deep square leg, to end Nik Pooran’s charge at the end sealed the almost perfect out-field performance.
It will be a bonus for Ireland if Mark Adair (ankle problem) and Boyd Rankin (back pain) are fit to take their place tonight but the fact that Ireland won without their two star bowlers augers well for the future and with Ireland’s fastest bowler, David Delany, back home recovering from an operation, suddenly there is competition for places in the pace bowling department.
The batting, as highlighted by the innings on Wednesday, still relies too much on the top four but progress and gaining experience are the key words. That game, after all, was Harry Tector’s first against a Full Member nation, Gareth Delany made his ODI debut on this trip and Barry McCarthy was playing his first international for eight months.
What will be missing tonight will be a vocal Irish support with the main tour party returning home yesterday, but after the disappointment of the last over defeat in the second one-day international in Barbados last week, their extended stay was rewarded by seeing the team come out on the right end of a last ball decider.
But O’Brien admitted the atmosphere in the Caribbean is like no other anywhere in the world.
“The local fans have a love of cricket and like to watch it played in the right way. They want to see players entertain them on the field, they want fours, sixes, wickets, catches. It is a party atmosphere.
In Grenada the fans were certainly spoilt with 26 fours, 27 sixes, 14 wickets and 11 catches and if the entertainment is half as good over the next two nights, Ireland will have played their part in a memorable series.