Ireland get their act together but weather fails to play its part at Stormont

Much improved batting display in vain as Zimbabwe ODI abandoned after rain

Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie and head coach Graham Ford react after the second World Cup Super League match against Zimbabwe was abandoned at Stormont on Friday. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie and head coach Graham Ford react after the second World Cup Super League match against Zimbabwe was abandoned at Stormont on Friday. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

 

2nd ODI: Ireland 282-8 (50 ovs) (W Porterfield 67, H Tector 55, A Balbirnie 40, P Stirling 33, L Tucker 32, G Dockrell 28; R Ngarva 3-52) v Zimbabwe. Match abandoned.

What a difference 48 hours makes. After collapsing to defeat in the first match of their World Cup Super League series against Zimbabwe, Ireland posted their highest total at Stormont on Friday.

However, it only brought them five points in the qualifying table because the heavy rain which hit the ground during the lunch break caused so much damage that Zimbabwe could not even begin their reply and the umpires abandoned the game as a no result shortly before 5.30pm.

Zimbabwe knew they probably got away with one because no team has chased as many on the Belfast ground and the Ireland bowlers would have got a chance to redeem themselves for those last 12 overs in the first game when they conceded 110 runs.

By coincidence, Ireland’s batsmen scored 110 from their last 10 overs and having hit just one boundary on Wednesday they crashed 14 this time, undoubtedly helped by having no scoreboard pressure.

Craig Ervine won the toss for Zimbabwe and with the poor forecast had no hesitation in bowling first. Paul Stirling was given an early scare when the second ball he faced lifted from just short of a length and was taken by the wicketkeeper still rising and opening partner William Porterfield was struck on the wrist by Blessing Muzarabani in the fifth over.

Porterfield was also dropped on 25 at backward point but after that Ireland took control. Their only setback in the first 35 overs was the loss of Stirling for 33, caught at wide mid-on, after a first wicket stand of 82. But Andrew Balbirnie then added another 69 with Porterfield from 74 balls before the skipper holed out to long-leg.

Porterfield followed immediately after the second drinks break, edging left-armer Richard Ngarava to the keeper, but the batsmen had learned from their failings in the previous match – when they could manage only 33 singles. The end of their two innings were chalk and cheese.

Harry Tector and George Dockrell each struck sixes in successive overs and that was the launching pad for their superb late charge. Even when Dockrell was caught on the mid-wicket boundary, Lorcan Tucker came in and hit a six and two fours in his 32 off 20 balls and Tector took his runs tally in the series to over 100 with third ODI 50 in six innings from just 39 balls.

A couple of run outs in the last over restricted Ireland to ‘only’ 14 off the last over but that included a straight six from the only ball Andy McBrine faced, giving him a record ODI strike rate of 600.

Both teams will be hoping for better weather for the final game on Monday, though Ireland still have plenty to prove.

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