Zimbabwe Women claim first ODI win despite Laura Delany heroics with the bat
Despite Ireland captain Laura Delany hitting her highest score in One-Day Internationals, Zimbabwe came out on top by four wickets in the first match of the four-match series led by an historic unbeaten century by Mary-Anne Musonda.
Zimbabwe Women v Ireland Women, 1st ODI, Harare Sports Club, 5 October 2021
Ireland 253-8 (50 overs; L Delany 88, S Kavanagh 31; J Nkomo 2-46, P Marange 2-48)
Zimbabwe 254-6 (43.5 overs: M Musonda 103*, P Marange 27; C Murray 2-46, S MacMahon 1-23)
Zimbabwe won by 4 wickets
The match today was significant for several reasons: it was Zimbabwe Women’s first official One-Day International, it was Ireland Women’s first competitive ODI in over three years, and head coach Ed Joyce handed out four debut caps to his young side – the debutants being Orla Prendergast, Amy Hunter, Georgina Dempsey and Celeste Raack.
After Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bowl first, the Irish batters sought to establish a competitive total in this first match of the series. Leah Paul (13), Gaby Lewis (24) and Rebecca Stokell (22) batted patiently and set a foundation for the visitors – however, it was the 76-run fourth wicket partnership between Delany and Shauna Kavanagh (31) that accelerated the run rate and put Ireland in control.
Delany was the chief aggressor, bringing up her maiden ODI half-century off 51 deliveries, eventually succumbing on 88 from 81 balls, slicing a high catch to deep cover in the 47th over – this was Delany’s highest score in ODI cricket, the sixth-highest individual score for Ireland Women in this format.
Sophie MacMahon hit out in the latter overs, smashing 29 runs off just 13 balls – including four boundaries, and Ireland went in to the break with 253-8 from their 50 overs – the third highest team score for Ireland Women in ODI cricket.
Following up her batting display, McMahon struck in the first over – removing Zimbabwean opener Chiedza Dhururu for 4, which was followed soon after by smart run out by Georgina Dempsey off her own bowling. At 25-2, Ireland sensed a chance to make in-roads, but a stabilising 57-run stand between Ashley Ndiraya (24) and Zimbabwe skipper Musonda swung the momentum of the match slightly back towards the home side.
Musonda grew in confidence as her innings progressed – playing predominantly through the off-side, she struck nine boundaries and turned the strike over regularly to keep the Irish bowlers from settling. She eventually brought up a well-deserved century from 110 balls and became Zimbabwe Women’s first-ever centurion in ODI cricket.
Zimbabwe passed the target with 31 balls to spare, finishing on 254-6 and taking a 1-0 over Ireland in the four-match series. The two sides return to the same venue for Game Two on Thursday.