Opener Evin Lewis agonizingly missed out on a third One-Day International hundred as West Indies stumbled before brushing aside Ireland by seven wickets in a lackluster opening ODI of the three-match series on Tuesday.
In pursuit of a modest 181 under lights at Kensington Oval, West Indies’ run chase was spearheaded by Lewis who struck an entertaining run-a-ball unbeaten 99 in what was an otherwise ragged batting effort.
Starting the 34th over on 93 with West Indies needing just three runs for victory, Lewis squirted seamer Barry McCarthy behind point for a couple to level the scores and keep alive his slim chances of three figures.
Needing a six to reach his landmark, Lewis flayed the third delivery over extra cover only for the ball to land frustratingly just inside the ropes for four, to leave him stranded one run short.
All told, the 28-year-old belted 13 fours and two sixes but was the only West Indies batsman to make his presence felt with Brandon King (20) the only other batsman to reach the 20s.
Fast bowler Alzarri Joseph had earlier snatched four for 32 from a 10-over spell as Ireland, opting to bat first, were dismissed for 180 in the 47th over.
Leg-spinner Hayden Walsh (2-30) and left-arm speedster Sheldon Cottrell (2-39) supported with two wickets apiece as the Irish slumped to 88 for six in the 23rd over and never really recovered.
Lorcan Tucker, with 31 and Mark Adair, 29, tried their earnest to repair the innings in 54-run, seventh wicket stand but once they were separated, Ireland lost their last four wickets for 38 runs.
Ireland enjoyed the better of the initial exchanges when debutant Gareth Delany (19) and the experienced Paul Stirling (15) put on 34 off 39 balls, before Joseph accounted for both.
In between, captain Andrew Balbirnie threatened albeit briefly when he clobbered two fours and a six – a hook behind square off Joseph – but he feathered a catch behind off the first ball of the game from off-spinner Roston Chase to perish in the 10th over and give Shai Hope the second of his five catches.
Joseph trapped Kevin O’Brien (4) in front in the 17th over before Cottrell removed Williams Porterfield (15) and Simi Singh (5) to catches at the wicket, as the wheels quickly came off the innings.
Tucker, who faced 68 balls and counted two fours, then occupied an end while Adair attacked, lashing two fours and a six in a breezy 34-ball knock before charging Walsh and going stumped in the 36th over, off the second ball following a drinks break.
Tucker and Andy McBrine (4) fell with the score on 150 but McCarthy (13) and Boyd Rankin (10) put on a valuable 30 for the last wicket, to frustrate the Windies.
In reply, Hope perished early for 13 when he top-edged McCarthy to mid-wicket in the sixth over but Lewis and King added 71 for the second wicket to put the Windies on top.
King batted slowly, needing 40 balls for his knock and hitting just two fours, and his demise in the 19th over led to a slide where the hosts lost three wickets for 32 runs, to slip to 130 for four in the 24th over.
Shimron Hetmyer (8) top-edged a sweep at off-spinner Simi Singh (2-44) and was taken by the keeper coming around while Nicholas Pooran (17) sliced off-spinner McBrine and was taken at point.
Lewis, who reached his half-century off 46 balls, then inspired the winning partnership when he posted 48 for the fifth wicket with Chase who fell for 19 with three runs required for victory.