Zimbabwe produced a scintillating display with the ball as they thrashed Ireland by 107 runs to take one step closer to the 2019 World Cup.
By Carlo Chikomba
After having gone in to bat first, Zimbabwe were off to a quick start, spurred on by opener Cephas Zhuwao fired two sixes and a four before sending a McCarthy slower delivery straight to Rankin at long-on to depart for an 18-ball 20.
The team total was 21/1 at that stage, and the innings chugged along fine with Solomon Mire and Masakadza as the team 50 was recorded in the ninth over. But both Mire (11) and Masakadza (18) fell with Zimbabwe on 50.
Things seemed to go downhill for the hosts from then as Zimbabwe’s 50/3 then became 87/5 with two big wickets in the form of Williams (9) and Taylor (25) falling off the bowling of Murtagh and McCarthy respectively.
With the exception of the hosts most in form batsman, Sikandar Raza (69 unbeaten), and Chisoro who played a gallant supporting role, the rest of the Chevrons batting line up offered very little resistance as they laboured to 211/9 off their allotted 50 overs.
The hosts needed an excellent performance on the bowling end to defend their unconvincing score and they did. Opening bowler Tendai Chisoro finished with figures of 3-22, while spinner Cremer claimed 3-18 as he mopped up the tail.
Chisoro claimed the scalp of William Porterfield who mistimed a pull shot off which went straight to Sikandar Raza at midwicket.
Andrew Balbirnie then departed in the first ball of the seventh over to make it 17-2 – Kyle Jarvis finding the inside edge with a bit of nip off the deck, which was expertly grappled by Brendan Taylor behind the sticks.
Things went from bad to worse for the Irish as veteran batsman Ed Joyce came and went in the space of two deliveries, courtesy of tremendous work from Taylor yet again – this time a tidy stumping off Chisoro.
Niall O’Brien then scooped up a sweep shot which found the diving Blessing Muzarabani behind square, who needed every inch of his lengthy frame to claim a tremendous catch that granted Chisoro his third scalp to make it 34/4 after 11.3 overs.
The rest of the Irish batsmen struggled to gain any form of momentum as they lost wickets at regular intervals and were eventually bundled out for 104 to gift the hosts a 107 run victory.
The win sees the Chevrons take a commanding lead at the top the table on net run rate ahead of their next match against two-time World Cup winners West Indies on Monday.