A dramatic victory in five runs by Ireland today sealed a serial victory against Zimbabwe and let the Men win in Green their first home series against any team since 2014 and the first home series against a full member country.
After the first pair of Paul Stirling and James McCollum from Ireland lost the litter and was the first to be sent to a low, green wicket, it turned out great.
McCollum was the first of fifty – his first half international century – while Stirling’s half-ton emerged a few balls later. Remarkably, for Stirling this was his sixth consecutive win over 50, and he improved his 4,000 during his innings. Run in one-day internationals for Ireland. He is the first Irishman to reach the milestone and look imperial until his release.
McCollum (73) kept beating and looked increasingly self-confident – flashing the boundaries of cover and slipping another through an empty cord. However, as the Irish team feel comfortable with 140-1, the Zimbabwean bowlers, led by Solomon Mire, fought back. Three wickets fell for 14 runs, and the previous well-scored scoreline looked a bit more precarious at 154-4.
At Lorcan Tucker’s arrival, there was a stabilizing partnership with captain William Porterfield (20), but the Irish side attempted to increase the hit rate, whereupon Porterfield fell behind.
From then on, there was only one story left – Tucker is better than half a century. As the gates around him fell, threatening to leave Ireland with a score of just over 200, Tucker struck his bearers. He hit seven tightly in an innings of great maturity and headed the home team to a competitive 242-9 – only on the penultimate ball of the innings, who tried to knock out.
For Zimbabwe, recalled Solomon Mire, who missed Bready, drew 4:43 and looked consistently dangerous, but the 2: 28 of 8 overs from Spinner Sikander Raza has probably done more to calm the Irish side and put pressure on the mediocre order to build up to great effect.
The Irish defense with ball in hand could hardly have started better. A wicket against Tim Murtagh (5:21) in his first round, followed by two more in his third round, left Zimbabwe 14: 3 down in the fifth round.
Craig Ervine (43) and Sean Williams consolidated the innings until Shane Getkate removed Ervine and feathered a ball behind the stumps to Tucker. Tucker was the easiest man on the field after taking a chance on Ervine ten balls ago.
Williams and Sikander Raza made 57 runs to bring Zimbabwe back to hunting, but experienced duo Rankin and Murtagh made the crucial breakthrough. Rankin first dismissed the dangerous Raza, which put 31 out of 22 balls, and then saw the reintroduction of the timeless Murtagh ending Williams for 58.
The last 15 Overs then swung dramatically, with both sides seemed to temporarily gain the upper hand. A dangerous 69-run game between Ryan Burl (53) and Donald Tiripano (33) threatened to deprive the home side of the game, but the bowlers and some excellent outfielders made sure that Murtagh Tiripano removed to take his first claim to Ireland five gates, and then Burl ran out and tried a close second run.
In the end, it was too much for Zimbabwe and Mark Adair when he finished the final and delivered several targeted full-length deliveries that limited the ability of the batters to hit the ball. Zimbabwe ended on 237-9, which earned Ireland victory and won the series 2-0.
This victory was also remarkable as it was Ireland’s first series win on home soil against a full member country and the first series victory against a team at home since 2014.