Ireland defeat Zimbabwe to set up T20I series decider

Zimbabwe – 144 all out in 20 overs (Craig Ervine 42, Innocent Kaia 25, Sean Williams 19; Graham Hume 3/17, Harry Tector 2/22, Gareth Delany 1/27)

Ireland – 150-4 in 19.4 overs (Ross Adair 65, Andy Balbirnie 33, Harry Tector 26; Ryan Burl 2/26, Tendai Chatara 1/26, Richard Ngarava 1/32)


Ireland won by six wickets

A brilliant innings of 65 by Ross Adair made Zimbabwe pay for a rather below-par batting performance, as Ireland won the second T20 international match by six wickets at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

The hosts were missing Gary Ballance, after he suffered a mild concussion during the first game.

Zimbabwe, put in to bat when Ireland won the toss, played an innings replete with excellent strokeplay but marred by too many unnecessary dismissals.

They lost the wicket of Tadiwanashe Marumani, who hit a two and was then caught from a lofted drive off Harry Tector that failed to clear mid-on in the first over.

His partner Innocent Kaia then played a little gem of an innings that quickly gave Zimbabwe an advantage, running to 25 off only 14 balls.

Sadly, he was cut off in his prime as he tried to steal a single after an lbw appeal and was easily run out, to make the score 54 for two in only the sixth over.

Wessly Madhevere came and went for a single, hitting a simple return catch to Gareth Delany.

Sean Williams came in and, like Kaia, played some superb strokes right from the start, but he also did not last, having scored 19 off 15 balls when he fatally attempted a reverse sweep off Tector and was out lbw – 86 for four in the 12th over.

All this time Craig Ervine had been playing a valuable steady innings, and he now put on 31 for the fifth wicket with Ryan Burl.

Once again, though, just as the batters were looking set for great deeds, the stand was broken as Ervine was very well caught in the deep by Tector off the bowling of Graham Hume for 42, scored off 40 balls – 117 for five in the 16th over.

The innings then went into terminal decline, with Burl caught at the wicket three balls later for 15.

Brad Evans scored 11, but Clive Madande, after surviving one run-out by the narrowest of margins, took another risk and was run out, quickly followed by a third dismissal this way with Richard Ngarava going without facing a ball.

Wellington Masakadza (4) tried to hit out in the final over, but was out to another fine catch by Tector on the boundary, and Zimbabwe slumped from 137 for six at one stage to 144 all out in eight balls.

Hume completed a fine spell of bowling with figures of three for only 17 off his four overs, while Tector took two for 22.

Andy Balbirnie was in fine form when Ireland batted, and with Adair put on 48 before the first wicket fell in the ninth over.

At that point Balbirnie got a top edge to a sweep off Burl and was caught at deep square leg by Marumani.

Zimbabwe seemed to be breaking through when Burl removed Stephen Doheny for two in his next over.

Adair now took on the role of aggressor, racing to his 50 off 40 balls, while Tector supported him well, and runs flowed rapidly as they laid into the Zimbabwe bowlers.

At 111 for two off 15 overs, Ireland needed another 34 for victory off the last five overs with eight wickets left, and Zimbabwe were now in trouble.

Adair fell in the next over, though, immediately after pulling Ngarava for a big six, aiming for another maximum over long-on but falling to one of Madhevere’s usual catches in the deep at long-on.

He scored 65 off 47 balls, with four sixes and two fours, and Ireland were now 110 for three off 16 overs, with another 25 needed off the last four overs.

Zimbabwe fought hard to pull the match back, but the Irish batters kept cool and the runs kept coming.

Nine runs were needed off the last two overs, and Tector (26 off 21 balls) made a fatal error when he holed out to Burl at mid-on as he tried to hit Tendai Chatara over the top – 136 for four, 10 balls left.

Curtis Campher cut Chatara for four, and then took two for a mishit over the bowler’s head, so four runs were needed from the final over.

Three singles were scrambled against Evans, before George Dockrell won the match with a superb six over the off-side field.

Burl took two wickets for 26 runs, but all the bowlers went for at least six runs an over.

The three-match series now stands at one victory apiece, and the deciding game will be played on the same ground this Sunday.