Zimbabwe will be looking to take an unassailable 2-0 lead when they meet Ireland in the second Coca-Cola Challenge one-day international (ODI) cricket match at Harare Sports Club today.
Zimbabwe lead the three match series 1-0 after a nerve- wrecking two wicket win over Ireland in a low-scoring match at the same venue on Sunday.
A win in today’s match will give them a series’ triumph with a game to spare and a step closer to regaining 10th position above Ireland on the ODI world rankings.
Any slip-up by Zimbabwe would take the series to the wire ahead of the final ODI on Thursday and that’s the last thing Allan Butcher and his charges would want.
The Irish have shown a lot of fighting spirit and never die attitude enough to convince the Zimbabwe team that they really need to take them seriously.
Speaking after the match, the Ireland captain William Porterfield said he was confident that his side would come back into the series stronger.
“We thought we needed 230 to be competitive but we fought really hard and there’s no reason why we can’t come back and win the two remaining games and the series,” skipper William Porterfield said afterwards.
Like the tie between the two teams at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, Sunday’s match was headed in the same direction until a moment of brilliance by man-of-the-match Edward Rainsford. Rainsford was the hero for Zimbabwe after taking four wickets and smashing the winnings runs off the last delivery of the match with huge six with Zimbabwe needing a run off the last ball.
In a game the hosts were in control of during the early stages, the Zimbabwean bating line-up almost threw away the initiative after an unconvincing run.
Opener Hamilton Masakadza and Vusimuzi Sibanda who came in at number four fell for first ball ducks while the rest of the bating line-up took too many deliveries to score their runs.
However, skipper Elton Chigumbura (41) and wicketkeeper batsman Tatenda Taibu (62) rescued Zimbabwe’s innings although they both failed to convert them into huge scores.
Zimbabwe were favourites to post an emphatic win after dismissing the tourists for a paltry 200 runs in 47 for 3 overs with Rainsford finishing with career best figures of 4 for 23 on a flat wicket.
However, Ireland fought back with some spirited bowling performances, courtesy of spirited bating performances by impressive slow left arm bowler George Dockrell who took three wickets for 27 runs in 10 overs. He could be one of their key bowlers again today.