After Ireland lost the toss, it put the ball on a wicket for the first time, which looked cheap for the sailors – and so it was. Tim Murtagh (3-39) beat first and removed opener Ryan Burl for 1. Mark Adair then joined the party, which forced the form-strong Craig Ervine on the back, from where he hit the ball on his stumps. Shortly thereafter, Murtagh had a second and Zimbabwe was 31: 3 on the 9th over.
Captain Hamilton Masakadza (23) and Sean Williams (67) strove to restore stability in the inning until William Porterfield, who skillfully turned his sailors so that the visiting batsmen did not settle, threw Shane Getkate the ball. The Northern Knights all-rounder called for two wickets in two overs and fellow countryman Adair called for another and suddenly Zimbabwe was on 88/6.
In terms of a counter-attack, Williams increased the pace of his hits and registered his 31st ODI half century. After several late-innings partnerships, Zimbabwe increased to 172 before Williams unfortunately fell short at the end of the game, after bowler Adair had missed a hard chance, but the ball deflected the stumps to Williams outside of his crease.
The end was near, and Ireland soon unwound the innings, with the last wicket falling at 190 from 46.5 overs.
Impressive of Ireland, the entire bowling unit contributed to the dominating performance, with Murtagh winning three wickets, Boyd Rankin, Getkate and Adair two each, and Kevin O’Brien without Wicket, but with a tight 0-25 of 8 Overs sustaining the pressure an end through the middle Overs and never let the visitors get going.
In response, James McCollum and Paul Stirling, who are still relatively young in the opening fixture, have followed their centenary in the final game with a 60-year partnership. Stirling was the first to lose 32 of 44 balls. This ended his series of consecutive results over 50 in ODIs, which will remain a remarkable six.
Andy Balbirnie, 5, left early, but McCollum and Captain William Porterfield teamed up to establish an innings-stabilizing, 43-year partnership. McCollum squeezed his second half in a row before dropping to an impressive 54 shortly thereafter. Porterfield and Kevin O’Brien then tried to end the win with a determined batting, but on the 49th Porterfield played back with a flinging ball from Ryan Maser and was bowled.
With still 32 victories O’Brien (35 *) and Lorcan Tucker (8 *) fought well for the well-deserved victory of 6 wickets, leaving almost nine overs were left.
Tim Murtagh was named player of the series because he had conquered nine wickets with an average of 11.33.
William Porterfield said after the game:
“What we liked today was our general attitude – we made every effort, and when we reached the top, we never let up. Murts [Tim Murtagh] just keeps going – at his age, he knows what he’s doing and what he’s got to do, it’s just nice to have someone like this, who you know is one of your bankers.”
For the captain, the day included a series of milestones, including the registration of his 4,000. ODI run for Ireland, and the victory was his 50th ODI victory as captain. Asked for these, he said:
“Milestones are things you might mark, some things that you may be happy with in the years to come, but the 3-0 victory was the first thing I really focused on.”
The two teams meet on Wednesday for the first of three T20 internationals in Stormont, Belfast. The game starts at 12.30pm. Tickets available at the gate or online through Ticketmaster.