Ireland bungled two run outs in a melodramatic last over but tail-ender Sheldon Cottrell held his nerve to smash the penultimate delivery for six, as West Indies won a cliff-hanger by one wicket to register their first series victory in the Caribbean in six years.
Chasing what should have been a straightforward target of 238 under lights in the second One-Day International at Kensington Oval, the hosts found themselves tottering on 148 for seven in the 29th over despite a top score of 52 from Nicholas Pooran and a stroke-filled 40 from captain Kieron Pollard.
Rookie Hayden Walsh Jr, in only his seventh ODI, came to his side’s rescue with an unbeaten 46 as he added 52 for the eighth wicket with Khary Pierre (18) and 32 for the ninth with Alzarri Joseph (16).
But even then, Ireland struck telling blows and West Indies still found themselves needing five runs to win at the start of the last over.
Kept scoreless off the first delivery from seamer Mark Adair, Walsh drilled the second ball to long on for a single to bring Cottrell on strike.
Cottrell (seven not out) then enjoyed a massive slice when he pushed into the off side and darted for a single, and was found well short of his ground when the stumps were broken at the non-striker’s end.
However, after a plethora of replays, third umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge could not determine if the stumps had been broken by the ball or Adair’s hands while attempting to effect the run out, and ruled Cottrell not out.
Even more drama ensued off the next delivery when Walsh bludgeoned a high full toss to cover and a mix-up in communication saw Cottrell race back for the second but Walsh remain anchored in his crease at the non-striker’s end.
Already three-quarters of the way down the pitch, Cottrell slipped in his attempt to regain safe harbour but thankfully, the return from the outfield came to the wrong end and by the time Adair collected and threw to the striker’s end, Cottrell had scrambled home.
With two runs needed from the last two balls, Cottrell then nervelessly lifted Adair over the ropes at extra cover to end the topsy-turvy contest and hand West Indies a 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
No such suspense was envisioned when fast bowler Alzarri Joseph (4-32) had earlier snatched his second four-wicket haul in as many matches to limit Ireland to 237 for nine off their 50 overs.
He was supported by left-arm speedster Cottrell who picked up three for 51, a spell that ensured the Irish gathered only 45 runs from the last 10 overs while losing three wickets.
Opener Paul Stirling proved the catalyst for the innings with 63 off 79 balls while Simi Singh (34), Kevin O’Brien (31) and William Porterfield (29) all chipped in with valuable contributions.
Winning the toss and batting for the second straight game, Ireland lost Gareth Delany (14) and captain Andrew Balbirnie (10) cheaply before Stirling and Porterfield propped up the innings in a 59-run, third wicket stand.
Stirling made most of the going, striking seven fours and a six before becoming one of four wickets to fall for 44 runs in the space of 49 balls as Ireland slumped to 154 for six in the 31st over.
Joseph, again adjudged Man-of-the-Match, was superb during this period, getting Stirling to play on in the 27th over to a short ball, forcing Lorcan Tucker (1) to fend to gully in his next over before removing O’Brien to a catch at fine leg.
Simi Singh and Adair (13) then put on a valuable 38 for the seventh wicket to rally Ireland, before Cottrell returned to hurt the innings again.
In reply, the Windies were quickly in trouble at 24 for three in the ninth over as Evin Lewis (7), Shimron Hetmyer (6) and Brandon King (0) all fell to loose strokes.
Pooran inspired two crucial half-century partnerships, posting 52 for the fourth wicket with Shai Hope (25) and 64 with Pollard for the fifth wicket as West Indies rallied.
The left-hander struck six fours in a brisk 44-ball knock while Hope was ultra-patient in 54 balls at the crease before perishing lbw to off-spinner Simi Singh (3-48) in the 19th over, coming too far across his stumps.
Pollard arrived at the crease to unleash a stunning salvo, lashing two fours and four massive sixes in a 32-ball cameo, as the Windies took firm control of the run chase.
And both he and Pooran were in full flight when rain halted play for nearly 20 minutes in the 26th over at 140 for four. Neither added on resumption, Pooran bowled by one from Simi Singh that turned and Pollard chipping one back to seamer Barry McCarthy (2-28).
When tail-ender Romario Shepherd (8) pulled Simi Singh to short mid-wicket, the Windies had lost three wickets for eight runs in the space of 16 balls to be 148 for seven but Walsh, who struck four fours, combined with Pierre and Joseph – and then ultimately hero Cottrell – to dash Ireland’s hopes.