Zimbabwe sealed a cricket series win against Ireland in the One-Day International Coca-Cola Challenge Cup after a three-wicket victory with an over to spare at Harare Sports Club Tuesday.
Chasing 239 for victory, man of the match Brendan Taylor led from the front with a crucial knock of 71 off 91 balls while Tatenda Taibu chipped with 41 runs. Skipper Elton Chigumbura (32 not out) and Graeme Cremer (22 not out) saw Zimbabwe home with seven deliveries to spare.
Yesterday’s win gave Zimbabwe a 2-0 series lead with a game to spare after a nerve- wrecking two-wicket win against the same opponents on Sunday.
However, tomorrow’s match will still be important for Zimbabwe as a whitewash series win would brighten the chances of regaining 10th position ahead of Ireland in the International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI rankings.
Ireland were sent in to bat after Zimbabwe again won the toss for the second consecutive time in the series and elected to bowl, posting a competitive total of 238 for 9 in their allotted 50 overs.
All-rounder Kevin O’Brien top-scored for the visitors with an unbeaten 73 off 102 balls and also took two wickets for 33 runs.
But he did not receive support from his fellow bowlers as Zimbabwe cruised to victory.
Ireland had threatened to take control of the match after Hamilton Masakadza went out after a brilliant one-handed catch at mid-off by Andrew White. Sean Williams would follow in the 15th over through a runout after a direct hit by George Dockrell at mid-off for 21.
Taibu and Taylor however combined well to share a third- wicket stand of 81 before Taylor was bowled by Dockrell in the 33th over. Craig Ervine (18) and Charles Coventry (10) however kept the run rate going despite going out early.
On a wicket that fast bowlers were put to the sword, Zimbabwe had to rely on the spinners to get the wickets in Ireland’s innings which also saw a late onslaught in which they scored a massive 38 runs in the last two overs.
Prosper Utseya and Christopher Mpofu took two wickets apiece although the latter’s nine overs went for 60 runs while leg spinner Graeme Cremer complemented Utseya to slow the run rate and chipped in with a wicket.
The hero of the last match Edward Rainsford managed only one wicket although his eight overs went for 56 runs at eight runs an over.
His last over went for 26 runs which included three sixes and two fours to finish with one for 56 in seven overs as the fast bowlers were put to the sword.
O’Brien shared an eight- wicket partnership of 55 with Trent Johnston who chipped in with the third largest score of 30 runs.