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Zimbabwe edge out Ireland in thriller

Zimbabwe edge out Ireland in thriller
Sikandar Raza scored a fluent knock of unbeaten 60 as Zimbabwe defeated Ireland in the first ODI by two wickets in Harare.
©REUTERS / Action Images

Zimbabwe 222-8 (Raza 60no) beat
Ireland 219-8 (Wilson 70no) by two wickets
First One-Day International in Harare

Riding on the back of splendid half-centuries from Sikandar Raza and Craig Ervine, Zimbabwe managed to beat Ireland in the first One-Day International by two wickets in Harare.

Zimbabwe won the toss and put Ireland in to bat first on a pitch that had an even covering of grass to help the seamers.

Paul Stirling (24) got his team off to a brisk start by hitting two boundaries in the second over and following it up with three more in sixth.

As Stirling did the bulk of scoring, William Porterfield (9) opted for a slower approach.

Stirling’s breezy knock came to an end when he chipped a catch to mid-wicket off Tinashe Panyangara (1-25).

Chamu Chibhabha (1-19) made it two in two overs for Zimbabwe as the debutant Wellington Masakadza (2-45) took a superb catch at point to dismiss Porterfield.

At the end of the first power-play, Ireland managed to post 40 for the loss of two wickets.

Ed Joyce (53) and Andy Balbirnie (5) tried to get a partnership going but Luke Jongwe (1-45) poured cold water on their plans by dismissing the latter, thanks to another fantastic catch by Masakadza.

Joyce and Gary Wilson (70 not out) got together to rebuild Ireland’s inning with a 83-run stand.

Malcolm Waller dropped a chance off Joyce at the end of the 30th over.

With 110 runs on the board at the cost of three wickets, Ireland were well positioned at this stage to push for a competitive target.

John Nyumbu (2-35) provided the much needed breakthrough for Zimbabwe, dismissing Joyce. Ireland were 137 for four in 36 overs at that stage.

Kevin O'Brien (16) looked dangerous with a couple of fours in the 39th over, but Nyumbu deceived him with the flight, caught by Waller at long-off.

Ireland kept losing wickets at regular intervals but the innings was propelled by a fine knock from Wilson along with a 14-ball cameo from Andy McBrine (23 not out) to take their team to 219 for eight in the 50 overs.

Nyumbu and Masakadza were the pick of Zimbabwe bowlers having managed two each while the rest ended up with a wicket apiece.

Needing 220 for a win, Zimbabwe were rocketed early, losing both their openers inside nine overs.

Mutumbami (9) mis-timed one to mid on to give John Mooney (1-24) his first wicket. Chibhabha (22) became victim of some fine spin bowling from McBrine (2-53), caught at short fine leg.

Ervine (60) brought up the Zimbabwe 50 in the 10th over with a couple of boundaries. Sean Williams (24) on the other had a lucky escape when he was dropped by Ed Joyce off Paul Stirling (0-35).

The duo added 54 runs before Williams was stumped by Wilson off Dockrell (2-29). 

It was double-strike for the left-arm spinner, as Elton Chigumbura (16) edged one to the wicket-keeper. Zimbabwe needed 95 runs from 23 overs. That's when Raza (60) joined Ervine.

Ervine brought up his half-century in 65 deliveries. Zimbabwe brought up the 150 in the 33rd over needing 70 more to win.

That's when Mcbrine got the crucial wicket of Ervine to give the visitors a lifeline in the game.

Zimbabwe lost Waller (1) and Jongwe (5) in quick succession as well needing 48 from the last 10 with three wickets in hand.

Dockrell missed a catch off his own bowling in the 45th over, giving Masakadza (10) a reprieve.Raza brought up his fifty off 65 deliveries in the next over. Zimbabwe needed 17 more to win in 24 balls.

Even though Ireland managed to get rid off Masakadza in the 47th over, Panyangara (8 not out), provided the much needed support for Raza, as Zimbabwe inched past the Ireland total with two wickets and six balls to spare.

Raza was adjudged the man of the match for his fine unbeaten half century. Zimbabwe lead the three match series 1-0. The action now shfits to 11th October for the second ODI between these two teams.

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