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27-Sep-2010 02:18:00 GMT
Zimbabwe v Ireland, 1st ODI, Harare

Rainsford Leads Zimbabwe to Win Last Ball Thriller

Harare: Ed Rainsford took four wickets and smashed the winning runs off the game's last delivery to lead Zimbabwe to a tense two-wicket win over Ireland in the first one-day international on Sunday.

Rainsford extracted good pace and movement on a flat Harare Sports Club deck to claim a career-best 4-23 as Ireland were bowled out for 200 runs.

The touring side fought back with a spirited bowling performance to nearly salvaged the game, but with the scores even at 200 and Zimbabwe needing a run off the last ball, Rainsford, coming in at No. 10, stood up to Kevin O'Brien and hit a big six through the deep to secure victory.

"I'd never been in that situation before so I felt a bit of pressure," Rainsford said. "I had the pressure off and focus on getting the runs. On the bowling side, practising and doing the right things has been key. I've been playing a lot of cricket for my franchise and the 'A' side and this has helped me a lot."

Ireland got off to bad start after being sent in to bat by Zimbabwe. Rainsford unsettled the Zimbabweans early, removing opener William Porterfield for 3 and Niall O'Brien for a duck with two straight balls in his first over. Rainsford caught Porterfield off his own bowling before having O'Brien edging a rising delivery to Hamilton Masakadza at second slip.

Opening bowler Chris Mpofu and legspinner Graeme Cremer took two wickets apiece.

In pursuit, Zimbabwe lost opening batsman Hamilton Masakadza first ball, and then suffered a middle-innings collapse to give the advantage to Ireland.

Tatenda Taibu, however, held the innings together with a battling 62, and captain Elton Chigumbura then took the attack to the Irish with 41 off 32 balls.

Gary Wilson top-scored with 69 for Ireland, sharing a 105-run fifth wicket stand with Andrew White, who made 47.

"It was obviously disappointing losing on the last ball," Ireland captain William Porterfield said. "I thought we'd done enough to win the match but we just could not get those last two wickets. Our bowling and fielding today showed that it is up there."

Brief score
200 (Wilson 69, White 47, Rainsford 4-23)
Zimbabwe 206 for 8 (Taibu 62, Chigumbura 41, Dockrell 3-27)
Result Zimbabwe won by two wickets
MOM Rainsford (Zimbabwe)

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