Zimbabwe hold nerve to claim first T20I in low-scoring thriller
A fine bowling display from Zimbabwe helped the visitors secure a three-run win over Ireland in a low-scoring thriller to go 1-0 up in the DafaNews T20I Cup.
Ireland Men v Zimbabwe Men, 1st T20I DafaNews Cup, Castle Avenue, 27 August 2021
Zimbabwe 117-7 (20 overs; R Chakabva 47, W Masakadza 19; C Young 2-15)
Ireland 114-9 (20 overs; S Singh 28, K O’Brien 25; R Burl 3-22)
Zimbabwe won by 3 runs
Chasing 118, Ireland – seven wickets down – required six runs from the final over but left-arm quick Richard Ngarava kept his composure to concede just two runs and bowl Barry McCarthy in the process.
Ngarava’s final few deliveries encapsulated a strong display in the field from the visitors. While Paul Stirling – fresh off a match-winning hand in The Hundred final for Southern Brave and playing his 300th match for Ireland – got his side’s innings up and running with a 19-ball 24, no one else in the Ireland top seven was able to find their flow; Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Shane Getkate, Curtis Campher and international debutant Neil Rock all fell for single-figure scores.
Kevin O’Brien, Stirling’s opening partner, took nine balls to get off the mark and though he did eventually find some rhythm to move to 25, his dismissal to Ryan Burl in the 11th over left Ireland on 65-4.
Leg-spinner Burl combined brilliantly with left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza in the middle overs as the pair shared five wickets, but Ireland still retained hope through Simi Singh, the No.8 who hit an ODI century against South Africa last month. Off the 17th over, bowled by Tendai Chatara, Singh followed up a flashing cut for four with a straight six, leaving 18 required from 18 balls. But Zimbabwe held their own at the death, with Singh left unbeaten at the end on 28 off 22 deliveries as McCarthy departed for 4 off 11 before Craig Young was immediately run out from the penultimate ball of the match.
Earlier in the day, Ireland had enjoyed their own success with the ball. Young picked up the wicket of Wessley Madhevere from the final ball of his opening over, with Rock holding on to the edge behind the stumps. The seamer didn’t have to wait long for his second; Tadiwanashe Marumani fell for a 10-ball 1 in the third over.
Yet while Young had removed both of Zimbabwe’s openers cheaply, their No.3 proved harder to dislodge. Regis Chakabva played what was to be the match-defining innings – his 47 took just 28 deliveries and featured four fours and one six. Runs were harder to come by from elsewhere for Zimbabwe as McCarthy, Singh and Getkate joined Young in the wickets column, but a total of 117 proved to be enough in the end.