Mark Adair makes timely return to help Ireland wrap up series

Man-of-the-match takes three wickets in the first four overs to ruin Zimbabwe chase

Ireland wrapped up a series win against Zimbabwe with a game to spare at Bready Cricket Club on Thursday, and the 64 runs margin was their third biggest in a T20 international.

All six batsmen reached double figures – without anyone going on to a half-century – but a total of 174 for four was always out of reach of the tourists once man-of-the-match Mark Adair had taken three wickets in the first four overs on his way to his best Ireland figures.

Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine, who has looked a class above his team-mates, battled hard but wickets fell regularly at the other end and only a frustrating last wicket stand of 24 prevented Ireland bowling out the opposition for a second successive day.

Adair missed the first two games of the series in Castle Avenue with a back spasm but with almost perfect timing he is back bowling at his best, just six weeks out from the T20 World Cup. He has bowled only seven overs this week but has taken a wicket in all but one of them.

“It’s nice to come back in and make an impact straight away,” Adair said at the end-of-match presentation, “but as a bowling unit we have been pretty good over the last two days.

"The bowlers had a good series against South Africa so we were disappointed after the first game [against Zimbabwe] but with [bowling coach] Stuart Barnes and [analyst] Scott Irvine, we came out up with new plans and have put them together.

“It’s good to see the lads come into form at the right time, it’s no secret that some have been out of form so it was good to put that right.”

Adair was well supported by Shane Getkate, whose two wickets keep him as the leading wicket-taker with eight in the series, although Simi Singh continues to be the most economical and claimed Ervine's wicket, caught at long-on by Adair.

Encouragingly, the Ireland batting is also looking a lot more solid after three successive flops against South Africa, with Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien once again leading from the front. Their opening stand was 89 in 62 balls this time and captain Andrew Balbirnie maintained the momentum with the best strike rate of the innings, until George Dockrell hit a six in the final over.

The biggest cheer of the day, inevitably, was for local hero William McClintock, the first north-west player to be capped since David Rankin in 2015. He got off the mark first ball with a shot which seemed to only come off the pad, but two boundaries followed and by the end he looked right at home and has undoubtedly added to the competition for places in the 15-man World Cup squad.

P Stirling c Ervine b Masakadza 39
K O'Brien c Shumba b Masakadza 47
A Balbirnie c Madhevere b Ngarava 36
S Getkate c Madhevere b Jongwe 12
W McClintock not out 15
G Dockrell not out 14
Extras (1lb 9w 1nb) 11
Total (4 wkts, 20 overs) 174
Did not bat: S Singh, M Adair, N Rock, C Young, B McCarthy
Fall: 1-89 2-114 3-144 4-147
Bowling: B Muzarabani 4-0-36-0, R Ngarava 3-0-25-1, L Jongwe 4-0-28-1, D Tiripano 3-0-38-0, W Madhevere 2-0-24-0, W Masakadza 4-0-22-0

W Madhevere c Getkate b Young 6
T Marumani c and b Adair 4
R Chakabva c Rock b Adair 11
D Myers b Adair 4
C Ervine c Adair b Singh 28
M Shumba b McCarthy 6
D Tiripano st Rock b Getkate 5
W Masakadza lbw Getkate 4
L Jongwe not out 24
B Muzarabani b Adair 2
R Ngarava not out 11
Extras (3lb 2w) 5
Total (for 9 wkts, 20 ovs) 110
Fall: 1-7 2-21 3-25 4-30 5-48 6-68 7-72 8-75 9-86
Bowling: C Young 4-0-23-1, M Adair 4-0-23-4, B McCarthy 4-0-24-1, S Getkate 4-0-19-2, S Singh 4-0-18-1
Ireland won by 64 runs to win series 3-1