ALL-ROUNDER Ryan Burl was yet again the hero after his brilliant half century steered Zimbabwe to a last gasp three wicket victory on the Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-affected first One Day International (ODI) at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
After his heroics in the T20I series decider in front of a capacity crowd on Sunday, Burl smashed a 49-ball 59 which included six fours and two sixes to set the foundation as Zimbabwe reached their revised target of 214 runs in 37 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
While wicketkeeper-batsman Clive Mandande heroically took the team over the line with a brilliant boundary off the last ball, Burl’s dogged fight until his dismissal in the final over ensured the hosts remained with a fighting chance until the last delivery.
The 28-year-old Marondera-born star, who has been enjoying a purple patch in his career, was deservedly named the Player of the Match, the third time he has won the accolade in Zimbabwe’s last four international matches, in addition to the Player of the Series award during the T20I series.
Zimbabwe won the T201 series 2-1.
Earlier, centuries by captain Andy Balbirnie, who retired hurt on 126 and Harry Tactor 101 not out, led Ireland to a challenging 288 for four in their allotted 50 overs after Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine had won the toss and elected to field first.
In reply, the hosts were reduced to 99 for four in 22.1 overs with Ervine managing 38 off 43 balls while debutant Gary Balance scored 23 off 28 balls before he was brilliantly caught at deep square led by Graham Hume.
Burl combined with the returning Sikandar Raza (43 off 45 balls) to keep Zimbabwe firmly in contention with an unbroken fifth wicket partnership of 76 runs which took Zimbabwe to 175 for four after 33.2 overs.
- Zimbabwe seek final flourish
- Zimbabwe seek final flourish
- ERVINE POSITIVE DESPITE POOR END TO SRI LANKA TOUR
- Zim eyeing another Sri Lanka upset
Zimbabwe appeared set to curse their rotten luck when a lengthy rain delay came when they were two runs behind on the Duckworth-Lewis method.
After the lengthy delay which lasted over an hour, Zimbabwe was set a new challenging target of 214 runs in 37 overs which meant they needed 39 runs to win off 3.4 overs.
Their task was made harder after the well-set Raza, who has recently almost single-handedly won matches for Zimbabwe, was caught by Curtis Camphor at long just two deliveries after the restart to leave the hosts facing an uphill task.
Burl took charge of the contest with some big shots towards the end before his dismissal off the second ball of the final over almost extinguished Zimbabwe’s hopes.
Seamer Brad Evans turned the tide back in Zimbabwe’s favour almost immediately with the big six off the next delivery but his dismissal soon afterwards left the hosts needing five from two balls to shift the momentum back to Ireland.
Number eight batsman Wellington Masakadza did well to take a single off the penultimate delivery, leaving Zimbabwe needing a boundary off the last ball. Despite lingering doubts on his batting ability, Madande was the unlikely hero after smashing an elegant cover drive off Graham Hume to send the few fans who had bravely remained behind after the lengthy rain delay, into frenzied celebrations.
The two teams will meet in the second ODI at the same venue on Saturday with Zimbabwe aiming to wrap up the series with a match to spare and Ireland hoping for a win to keep the series alive.