Zimbabwe pip Ireland to T20 victory by three runs

Extended wait for first win in shortened game persists ahead of October T20 World Cup

Ireland's wait for a T20 international victory goes on and they have now one match less to get it right before they head to the T20 World Cup in October.

A desperately disappointed captain Andrew Balbirnie had no excuses after Zimbabwe defended a below-par 117 to win the first of the five-match series in Castle Avenue by three runs.

It was an exciting finish with Ireland needing six off the last over but Simi Singh after failing to score from the first two balls could manage only a single off the third from Zimbabwe speedster Richard Ngarava who then bowled Barry McCarthy with his next ball.

Number 10 batsman Craig Young was run out off the fifth ball, trying to run a bye. At least it got Singh back on strike but Ngarava was too accurate and Simi could only hit the final ball for a single to deep mid-wicket. But it should never have come to this as Balbirnie admitted.

“”Very disappointed,” he said. “We weren’t good enough with the bat. We got ourselves into a run-a-ball situation but never got a grip and it if wasn’t for Simi we wouldn’t even have got so close. We’d always back ourselves to chase that total so we will have to reassess and go again on Sunday. It’s a long series.”

It had all looked so promising for first 30 overs of the match. The bowlers had stuck to their task and in the absence of Mark Adair and the rested Josh Little, Craig Young, Barry McCarthy and Ben White all conceded less than five runs an over and shared four wickets.

It was an eye-opener for Curtis Campher, making his T20 debut, as his first ball disappeared to the mid-wicket boundary and 16 came off the over with another nine following when he returned to bowl the 17th over.

The most positive news of the day was Kevin O'Brien back among the runs – 25 of them – for the first time since January, although Paul Stirling, in his 300th game for Ireland had dominated the opening stand of 27.

O'Brien was eventually bowled in the ninth over, the ball after George Dockrell had holed out to long-off but with just 53 needed from 55 balls, it was still Ireland's match to lose. And they did.

Only 200 spectators were admitted to Castle Avenue because of Covid-19 restrictions and no one else in Ireland or the UK was able to watch the match because of rights issues. Cricket Ireland are still in negotiations but there has still been no agreement for the rest of the T20 series, which continues back at Clontarf tomorrow.

Scoreboard

Zimbabwe
W Madhevere c Rock b Young 1(4)
T Marumani c Stirling b Young 1 (10)
R Chakabva b Singh 47 (28)
D Myers b Getkate 10 (14)
C Ervine c Balbirnie b Singh 17 (12)
M Shumba c Rock b McCarthy 7 (18)
R Burl run out 12 (15)
W Masakadza not out 19 (15)
L Jongwe not out 2 (4)
Extras (1lb) 1
Total (7 wkts, 20 overs) 117
Did not bat: T Chatara, R Ngarava
Fall: 1-2 2-5 3-43 4-73 5-79 6-89 7-113
Bowling: C Young 4-0-15-2, B McCarthy 4-1-20-1,
C Campher 2-0-25-0, S Singh 4-0-22-2,
S Getkate 2-0-16-1, B White 4-0-18-0

Ireland
P Stirling b Jongwe 24 (19)
K O'Brien b Burl 25 (32)
A Balbirnie lbw b Burl 6 (8)
G Dockrell c Masakadza b Burl 8 (6)
S Getkate c Chatara b Masakadza 5 (10)
C Campher c Myers b Masakadza 3 (4)
N Rock b Jongwe 4 (7)
S Singh not out 28 (22)
B McCarthy b Ngarava 4 (11)
C Young run out 0 (1)
B White not out 0 (0)
Extras (3lb 4w) 7
Total (9 wkts, 20 overs) 114
Fall: 1-22 2-44 3-65 4-65 5-70 6-76 7-88 8-113 9-113
Bowling: W Masakadza 4-0-18-2, R Ngarava 4-1-17-1,
T Chatara 3-0-25-0, L Jongwe 4-0-17-2, R Burl 4-0-22-1,
D Myers 1-0-12-0

Zimbabwe win by three runs.

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