Middle order batsman Andrew White’s unbeaten on 97 helped Ireland overcome a nervy start to finish strongly at the end of day one of their Intercontinental cricket match against Zimbabwe XI at Harare Sports Club Monday.
At stumps, Ireland were at 340 for six in 96 overs with White and John Mooney who was on 25 sharing a stubborn spell-out wicket stand of 72.
Ireland had won the toss and elected to bat first on a good batting track which was offering very little for the bowlers.
The Zimbabwe XI enjoyed a good start through quick wickets from Shingirai Masakadza who dismissed Paul Stirling 17 and Andre Botha (7) in similar fashion when they both edged to Vusimuzi Sibanda at first slip.
Masakadza would finish day one with figures of 2 for 75 in 17 overs. Njabulo Ncube also had Niall Obrien caught by Sibanda at first slip and he finished with figures of one for 49 in 18 overs.
Skipper Kevin Porterfield led the fight-back from the front with a gritty 51 off 115 balls while the middle order pair of Kevin Obrien 71 shared a fourth wicket partnership of 85 runs, the second highest in the match.
Leg spinner Natsai Mushangwe however struck soon after lunch to dismiss the pair as they both edged his deliveries to wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva.
However, Gary Wilson who eventually finished at 47 and White would share the biggest partnership of the match on day one when they combined to share a sixth wicket partnership of 92 runs.
However, it was broken when Wilson edged slow left arm bowler Sean Williams in the 76th over to wicketkeeper Chakabva. Williams had made an immediate impact in his first over just before tea.
The Zimbabwe XI had a chance to take more wickets after the introduction of the new ball in the 88th over but the fast bowlers struggled to make any breakthrough.
The closest they got to taking a wicket was when skipper Vusimuzi Sibanda, who had been impressive on the field all day, could not hold to a thick outside edge from Mooney off the bowling of Masakadza just five overs before stumps.
Zimbabwe will now be aiming to finish off the Irish batting line-up before lunch to stand a good chance of coming out with something from the match.