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Ervine ton seals series

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CRAIG Ervine battled through the intense heat and a niggling hamstring injury to score an unbeaten century, steering Zimbabwe to a comfortable five wicket victory in the second one day international (ODI) series at Harare Sports Club yesterday.

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

After beating the same opponents by two wickets in the first match on Friday, yesterday’s victory handed Zimbabwe their first ODI series victory since beating Bangladesh 2-1 at home in 2013.

Ervine, whose half century on Friday laid the platform for Zimbabwe’s narrow win, continued his fine run of form, with an unbeaten 101 off 122 balls as Zimbabwe successfully chased Ireland’s score of 268 for seven with nine balls to spare.

After winning the toss and electing to field, Zimbabwe would have been disappointed with their performance in the field, as Ireland posted a competitive 268 for seven in 50 overs.

Ireland’s highly-competitive score was set up by three half centuries by Paul Sterling (72), Niall O’Brien (50) and the in form Gary Wilson (65), who scored his second consecutive half century of the series.

After the early dismissal of skipper William Porterfield, it was Sterling who helped set the platform as he shared a 66-run partnership for the second wicket with Ed Joyce (17).

Ed Joyce was trapped lbw by Sikandar Raza in the 22nd over Sterling, who hit nine fours in his innings continued accelerating the run rate before he was trapped lbw by a full and straight Raza delivery.

Although Sterling’s dismissal pegged Ireland back, O’Brien consolidated with a 61-ball 50, before Wilson ensured the tourists posted a competitive score with a quickfire 65 off 55 balls, which included six fours and three sixes in his innings.

Zimbabwe would, however, feel they could have done better in the field, as Wilson survived a run out chance after a fumble by Mutumbami, while O’Brien, was dropped twice in the 24th over.

Raza was the pick of the bowlers for Zimbabwe with three wickets for 49 runs in his 10 overs, while Luke Jongwe and Tinashe Panyangara chipped in with a wicket each.

After being set a competitive score, Zimbabwe needed to get off to a solid start and Chibhabha and Mutumbami ensured that with an opening stand of 47 runs.

However, they both fell in quick succession with Mutumbami (14) being caught by Porterfield at point in the eighth over before Kevin O’brien had Chibhabha caught behind for his 200th ODI wicket in the ninth.

After the fall of the two quick wickets, Zimbabwe were suddenly in danger of surrendering another strong position, but Ervine, who once contemplated an international career with Ireland, gave the hosts the stability they needed.

Together with Sean Williams (43), the pair put on the highest partnership of the match, as they plundered 98 runs for the third wicket stand to help the hosts set up the platform for a successful run chase.

Williams was, however, left livid with himself for giving his wicket away cheaply after being caught by Joyce on the long on boundary while going for the big shot.

However, Ervine, who has now scored two centuries in his last four ODIs, after his match winning 130 not out against New Zealand, continued to accelerate the pace of the innings.

He shared further partnerships with Tinotenda Mutombodzi (25) and Raza (33) before leading the home side past the finishing line in style with a boundary down the ground.

The two teams meet in the third ODI at Harare Sports Club tomorrow.

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