|USA 188-6 (20 overs) Singh 65, Modani 50; McCarthy 4-30|
|Ireland 161-6 (20 overs) Tucker 57*, Stirling 31; Netravalkar 2-26, N Patel 2-27|
|USA won by 26 runs|
The USA stunned Ireland by 26 runs in the first Twenty20 international between the sides in Florida.
It was the first time an International Cricket Council (ICC) full member had faced the USA on American soil.
After slumping to 16-4 inside five overs in Lauderhill, the USA rallied as Sushant Modani (50) and Gajanand Singh (65) helped them post a mammoth 188-6.
Ireland, 17 places higher in the ICC rankings, fell well short with the bat despite Lorcan Tucker’s unbeaten 57.
The defeat comes only two months after Ireland were dumped out of the T20 World Cup group stages after defeats by Sri Lanka and Namibia.
“It started really well but from there it was pretty brutal stuff from us and not good enough,” said Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie.
“We knew it was a good wicket and we would have to work hard for the 10 wickets if we were to get them. We didn’t create enough chances and we didn’t bowl well enough.
“They played brilliantly but we gave them a lot of bad balls to hit as well, which is disappointing.
“We just weren’t good enough today and we deserved to lose. The guys are obviously disappointed but they will want to turn it around tomorrow.”
USA dig deep after terrible start
After a highly anticipated build-up to the historic game, the USA elected to bat first but it was a disastrous start when Barry McCarthy dismissed captain Monank Patel with the second ball.
It looked like a rout would be on the cards when ex-West Indies Test batsman Xavier Marshall, Ritwik Behera and Ryan Scott all fell inside 4.2 overs, with McCarthy (4-30) adding two more wickets to his tally.
But a strong response led by Singh and Modani brought the hosts back into the game and ultimately paved the way to victory.
Singh was eventually dismissed for 65 by Ben White, and Modani fell at the end of the penultimate over to give McCarthy his fourth wicket, but it left a strong total for the favourites to chase.
Ireland lost Balbirnie for four in the second over and star batter Paul Stirling fell for 31 with Ireland 45-2 in the fifth over.
The loss of Stirling, who could move up to fourth in the list of all-time T20 international runs – behind only Martin Guptill, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma – if he scores 20 or more in the second match on Thursday, hampered Ireland.
Despite the resistance of Tucker, the Irish batting order struggled to build momentum and Curtis Campher (17), Shane Getkate (19) and Neil Rock (seven) were all dismissed to put the USA in control.
And by the time William McClintock was bowled by Ali Khan in the 18th over, the game was all but lost.
Remaining fixtures – USA v Ireland:
- 23 December: 2nd T20I (Florida; 00:00 GMT on 24 Dec)
- 26 December: 1st ODI (Florida; 15:00 GMT)
- 28 December: 2nd ODI (Florida; 15:00 GMT)
- 30 December: 3rd ODI (Florida; 19:00 GMT)