Harare: An all-round effort from Tim Murtagh, managed to hold its nerve to come away with a consolation win in the third and final ODI in Harare on Tuesday.
Asked to bat, Zimbabwe was off to a poor start and, later, couldn’t really get going in the death. But the host managed to give its total a semblance of respectability because of Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza, both of whom scored half-centuries as Zimbabwe ended on 187 in 49.2 overs.
Murtagh was the pick of the bowlers for Ireland with career-best figures of 4 for 32 from his ten overs.
it looked like a canter for Ireland when it reached 94 for 3 by the halfway stage. But then it slumped to 160 for 8 before Andy McBrine and Murtagh came together and thwarted Zimbabwe’s ambitions. The two of them collaborated for 29 runs and Ireland crossed the line with two wickets and 22 balls to spare.
Taurai Muzarabani, Wellington Masakadza and Tinotenda Mutombodzi picked up two wickets apiece for Zimbabwe.
In the first half of the game, Zimbabwe’s batsmen faltered big time. The openers – Chamu Chibhabha and Richmond Mutumbami – were back in the hut with just seven runs on board. Brain Chari went after scoring 17, but Sean Williams steadily took charge of the innings with 51 from 69 balls before becoming the fourth man out, the scoreboard reading 88 for 4.
It was the partnership between Chigumbura (34 in 63 balls) and Raza that helped Zimbabwe reach drier shores as the two added 71 runs for the fifth wicket. Chigumbura was the fifth man out and Raza, after scoring 50 from 56 balls, was the next to go. After that, Ireland picked up the remaining wickets without much fuss.
In contrast, Ireland looked sturdy at the start. William Porterfield and Paul Stirling put together 31 wickets for the opening wicket. The pressure built with the fall of wickets, and, eventually, it came down to Murtagh and McBrine to see it through.
Zimbabwe - 187 (Williams 51, Sikandar Raza 50, Murtagh 4-32)
Ireland - 189/8 (Stirling 50)
Result - Ireland won by 2 wickets
MOM - Tim Murtagh (Ireland)
Player of the series - Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe)