A Twenty20 game may last 40 overs but it can be lost in 10 and that was the story of Ireland's defeat to West Indies in the first of four such clashes between the teams in the next three weeks. Culminating in the first match of the World Twenty20 in Guyana on April 30, Ireland got a taste of what they can expect and where they have to improve after imposing themselves on a game they know was theirs for the taking.
After 14 overs of the West Indies innings, Ireland had their hosts pegged back at 63 for four. Ten overs later, Ireland were 10 for three themselves with their county stars all back in the pavilion, having helped Darren Sammy's side to 143 for eight. This was a West Indies team without their Indian Premier League stars - Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard will all be available by the end of the month - and after Herculean bowling performances by Trent Johnston, Kevin O'Brien and Paul Stirling Ireland were in the box seat.
Stirling was the biggest surprise. Bowling in his only his third T20 match - his first two had aggregated two overs for 19 runs - he had the dangerous Darren Bravo stumped with his eighth ball and conceded just 13 runs in his four overs. Only a solitary six messed up Kevin O'Brien excellent first three overs with the new ball, in place of the omitted Peter Connell, while Johnston took two wickets in his first nine balls, including Ramnaresh Sarwan.
But the wheels came off in those last six overs. Gary Kidd, Saturday's bowling hero in the three runs win over Jamaica, couldn't repeat his efforts and after bowling two above-waist high full tosses he lost his way and with the momentum solidly with the Windies, Andrew White and Alex Cusack's last three overs from the pavilion end went for 49. Ravi Rampaul, playing against some of his team-mates from Ireland's 2008 Friends Provident Trophy campaign, did not let them off the hook and tempted William Porterfield to chase a wide one and when big Sulieman Benn dismissed Niall O'Brien and Gary Wilson in his first two overs, Ireland's innings was in ruins.
Paul Stirling and Andrew White attempted the recovery but Sammy removed both White and his replacement, Kevin O'Brien in the 11th over and at 48 for five there was only one winner, despite Trent Johnston's late defiance. The oldest man in the squad finished 28 not out and hit three of only seven boundaries in the innings.