A magnificent 70 not out from Josephine Nkomo, scored off 86 balls with seven fours, when the innings closed at 50 overs.

Nkomo’s fighting fifty in vain as Ireland Women level series

Ireland Women – 286-7 in 50 overs (Leah Paul 95, Gaby Lewis 65, Laura Delany 35; Josephine Nkomo 1/33, Precious Marange 1/38, Loreen Tshuma 1/44)

Zimbabwe Women – 206-9 in 50 overs (Josephine Nkomo 70*, Ashley Ndiraya 27, Nomvelo Sibanda 27; Cara Murray 3/56, Celeste Raack 2/23, Leah Paul 1/29)


Ireland Women won by 80 runs


A fighting ninth-wicket partnership of 69 between Josephine Nkomo, who scored an admirable 70 not out, and Nomvelo Sibanda was the only real comfort for Zimbabwe Women as they went down by 80 runs in the second one-day international (ODI) against Ireland at Harare Sports Club on Thursday.


It was a match which the tourists, determined after losing the first game of the series, dominated from start to finish.


Mary-Anne Musonda, as in the first ODI, won the toss and put Ireland Women in to bat, but the visiting batters took control from the outset and never relinquished it.


Leah Paul and Gaby Lewis, the usual opening pair, hit three boundaries between them in the first two overs and continued to score at a fine pace.


After 10 overs they had taken the score to 50 without loss, and the team hundred came up in the 20th over, with none of the bowlers able to break through.


They took their stand to 135 in the 26th over before Nkomo finally broke through, bowling Lewis for 65, scored off 74 balls with seven fours.


Esther Mbofana quickly followed this up by trapping the new batter, Amy Hunter, lbw for one, but this brought in the Ireland Women captain, Laura Delany, who continued her fine form from the first match.


They took the score to 203 before Loreen Tshuma had Delany caught for 35 off 40 balls.


Paul was approaching her century, but Precious Marange got the better of her with her score on 95, a fine innings scored off 118 balls and containing eight fours – Ireland Women were now 219 for four in the 41st over.


There followed a brisk partnership between Shauna Kavanagh (34 off 31 balls, the fastest of the innings) and Orla Prendergast (23 off 27), taking the score to 266 before the fifth wicket fell in the 48th over.


Both these players were then run out, with Loryn Phiri and Ashley Ndiraya the fielders responsible.


Sibanda bowled out Sophie McMahon for three, and the innings closed on the imposing score of 286 for seven wickets.


This is the second-highest ODI total ever achieved by the Ireland Women, behind only their 309 for two wickets against Netherlands Women back in 2005.


Five Zimbabwe Women bowlers took a single wicket each, but the two best were certainly Nkomo, a right-arm seam bowler, and Marange, who bowls off-spin.


They went for only 33 and 38 runs respectively off their 10 overs, while the other bowlers all conceded more than six runs an over.


Unfortunately, Zimbabwe Women’s opening batters Chiedza Dhururu and Modester Mupachikwa were quite unable to get on terms with the Irish bowling, and when the score after 10 overs was only 21 for no wicket, the home side had fallen well behind the required run rate of almost six an over.


Ireland Women were now on top, and in quick succession Mupachikwa was run out for nine, while Dhururu, whose 14 took 47 balls, was stumped in trying to improve the rate.


Even Musonda could not get going, and took 17 balls to score four before being caught, the score then being 40 for three off 16 overs.


Pelagia Mujaji was next to go, six off 17 balls, at 57 for four in the 21st over.


Ndiraya did a good job as she had to try to push the score along and score quickly at the same time, and she was finally stumped at 81 for five, having made 27 off 37 balls.


Nkomo had made a good partner for her as they added 24 for the fifth wicket in five overs, the highest partnership of the innings at that stage.


Marange tried hard to get the score moving with an aggressive innings of 14 off only nine balls, taking the score to 99 before she was caught, but Tshuma failed to score.


Phiri scored seven in partnership with Nkomo before she was out with the score at 121 for eight wickets in the 34th over.


Although all hopes of victory had long since gone, the match finally saw a great fighting spirit by the ninth-wicket pair of Nkomo and Sibanda.


They took the sensible course of playing each ball on its merits and playing positively, and the runs came steadily.


The pair stayed together until the 49th over, when Sibanda was finally bowled by Jane Maguire for a gallant 27, scored off 42 balls, with the score at 190.


Mbofana joined Nkomo, who kept the runs coming to take the score past 200, and was not out with a magnificent 70, scored off 86 balls with seven fours, when the innings closed at 50 overs.


Mbofana did her part with seven.


Of the Irish bowlers, Cara Murray took three wickets for 56 runs and Celeste Raack, the most economical, two for 23 in her 10 overs.


The four-match series is now level at one victory each.