Shamarh Brooks stroked a silky-smooth half-century on One-Day International debut but then squandered the hundred on offer, as West Indies knocked over Ireland by 24 runs in the opener of the three-match series in Jamaica on Saturday.
The elegant right-hander carved out 93 off 89 deliveries, notching one of two half-centuries in the innings as captain Kieron Pollard celebrated his return from injury with a typically robust 69 off 66 balls, West Indies rallying to reach 269 all out in the penultimate over after being sent in.
They were tottering at 62 for four in the 19th over but Brooks and Pollard combined in a record fifth wicket stand of 155 – the highest for the wicket at Sabina Park – to pull the innings around.
In reply, Ireland got half-centuries from Andy Balbirnie (71) and Harry Tector (53) but lost their way at the back end of the run chase and were dismissed for 245 off the first delivery of the final over.
Fast bowlers Romario Shepherd (3-50) and Alzarri Joseph (3-55) snatched three wickets apiece as Ireland saw their last eight wickets tumble for 80 runs.
Shai Hope (29) looked to be anchoring the innings but was one of three wickets to fall for three runs in 13 deliveries, as off-spinner Andy McBrine (2-52) struck twice to peg the hosts back.
Brooks then punched nine stylish fours and three equally polished sixes while Pollard blasted four fours and four sixes, as West Indies hauled themselves back into the contest.
After needing 18 balls for his first eight runs, Brooks cruised to his maiden half-century off 61 balls at the end of the 36th over, and looked a sure bet for three figures.
Dropped on 92 at the start of the 45th over, Brooks failed to capitalise on the reprieve and was lbw to seamer Mark Adair (3-38) off the fifth ball of the same over.
Pollard had perished three overs earlier, holing out on the ropes at long on off seamer Craig Young (3-56) and with both set batsmen gone, West Indies lost their last five wickets for just 31 runs.
Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein then kept the hosts on top when left-handed opener William Porterfield (0) missed a sweep and was lbw in the second over with a single run on the board.
However, Balbirnie patched up the innings in a 164-run stand, first with Andy McBrine (34) and then with Tector who belted five fours and a six off 68 deliveries.
McBrine retired hurt in the 17th over after being struck on the helmet and was replaced by Neil Rock after failing the concussion protocols.
Despite the setback, Ireland remained steady through Balbirnie who faced 94 balls and counted seven fours and a six, reaching his 13th ODI half-century off 74 balls in the 27th over.
Once he nicked behind in the 37th over off Shepherd, the run chase was derailed, despite George Dockrell’s 30 off 25 balls and Adair’s nine-ball unbeaten 21.