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Tim Murtagh guides Ireland to a nervy two-wicket win

Tim Murtagh guides Ireland to a nervy two-wicket win
Tim Murtagh registered a man of the match performance to take Ireland to a two-wicket victory against Zimbabwe in Harare.
©REUTERS / Action Images

Ireland 189-8 (Stirling 50) beat
Zimbabwe 187 (Williams 51) by two wickets
Third One-Day International in Harare

Tim Murtagh registered a superb four-wicket haul and followed it with a crucial unbeaten knock of 19 to give Ireland a consolation two-wicket victory in the third and final One-Day International against Zimbabwe in Harare.

Ireland won the toss for the first time in the tournament and without any hesitation decided to field first.

Craig Young (1-35), who replaced John Mooney struck in the first over to dismiss Richmond Mutumbami (0).

Chamu Chibhabha (4) survived a close lbw appeal in the second over off Murtagh (4-32). However, he got out to the same bowler in the fourth over, edging one to Niall O'Brien behind the stumps leaving Zimbabwe at seven for two.

Brian Chari (17) and Sean Williams (51) tried to resurrect the innings with their 49-run stand, but Andy McBrine (1-47) bowled Chari in his first over which was also a maiden.

Williams had a reprieve in the 22nd over when he was dropped at mid-wicket. He soon brought up his fifty in 66 deliveries. Zimbabwe moved to 84 for three. 

The trend of picking a wicket in the first over of a spell continued as Paul Stirling (1-17) had Williams caught behind.

Just when Zimbabwe were in a precarious position of 88 for four, Elton Chigumbura (34) and Sikandar Raza (50) brought the innings on the track with their 71-run stand.

Zimbabwe reached 145 for four in 40 overs. But that was when Murtagh returned back to remove both Chigumbura and Raza in successive overs after which the home team collapsed without any fight. 

They were eventually dismissed for 187 in the final over of the innings with Murtagh being the pick of the bowlers for Ireland with his four-wicket haul. Young, McBrine, Stirling and Kevin O'Brien (1-14) managed a wicket apiece. 

Chasing 188 for a win, Ireland plundered 15 runs in the first over from Taurai Muzarabani (2-43). William Porterfield (20) scored three boundaries in it. 

However Muzarabani came back strong in the sixth over dismissing Porterfield caught at extra cover by Raza. Ireland were 31 for one at that stage.

A scratchy 24-ball knock from Ed Joyce (7) was put to end by Wellington Masakadza (2-31). 

Stirling (50) who was Ireland's best batsman on tour shifted gears with two boundaries in the 20th over to take the total to 82 for two.

Ireland needed 94 runs from 26 overs and that is when Andy Balbirnie (24) was a victim of a poor running, eventually costing his wicket and a couple of overs later they lost Niall (1) too.

Stirling was caught behind in the 33rd over from Luke Jongwe (1-35) immediately after reaching his half-century. Ireland needed 69 more runs to win from 17 overs with five wickets in hand.

Zimbabwe capitalized on the dismissal of Stirling as they exerted constant pressure on Ireland lower-middle order restricting them to 161 for eight in 43 overs.

However, an unbeaten 29-run stand between Murtagh (19 not out) and McBrine (14 not out) ensured Ireland won the game with two wickets in hand. 

Tinotenda Mutombodzi (2-33), Muzarabani and Masakadza ended up with two wickets each. The series ended with a 2-1 victory to Zimbabwe.

Murtagh was named the man of the match while Raza bagged the man of the series award. 

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