THE Zimbabwe national cricket team took the lead in their three match T20 series against visiting Ireland after a five wicket win in the first match played at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Batsman Gary Ballance’s senior debut for Zimbabwe was the highlight of the game as the former England international started off his Chevrons career with a 29-ball 30 runs after coming in at number four with Zimbabwe on 43 for 3.
Sean Williams (34 not out) and Clive Madande (18 not out) guided Zimbabwe home as they chased down a modest 114 in 18 overs following Ireland’s struggles with the bat.
Williams faced 30 balls and managed to score three boundaries, while Madande also hit the fence, same as his partner.
Ballance scored Zimbabwe’s only six in addition to two boundaries as the hosts eased to victory ahead of the final two matches tomorrow and Sunday, which will be played at the same venue.
Zimbabwe’s openers Craig Ervine and Tadiwanashe Marumani scored four runs each with the former failing to utilise the gift of a second life having been dropped first ball.
Marumani was rather unfortunate in his lbw dismal off the bowling of Mark Adair.
Adair finished with two wickets to his name, the same as Harry Tector, while Barry McCarthy had 1 for 14 after he got rid of Ervine.
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Zimbabwe won the toss and chose to field making a brilliant start with the ball going to the throat of Ireland from the first ball.
The tourists found themselves three down within the first three overs with just 28 runs on the board.
Ross Adair was the first to depart after his castle was dismantled by Richard Ngarava in the second over.
His opening partner followed him back to the hut five balls and six runs later, with Ryan Burl completing the catch of the bowling of seamer Tendai Chatara.
Brad Evans joined in the party to get rid of Stephen Doheny, one of only four batsmen from the Ireland line-up to reach double figures at 15.
There was no respite for Ireland even after the introduction of spin, with Burl claiming Zimbabwe’s fourth scalp after he bowled Harry Tector who had faced 16 balls for his 5 runs.
Burl went on to find George Dockrell’s stumps with the batsman on nine runs after he had scored Ireland’s one and only six of the innings.
Wellington Masakadza took two wickets for just 13 runs in four overs after he removed Curtis Campher (20) and Tyrone Kane (9).
Burl finished with the best bowling figures for Zimbabwe with 3 for 29 in four overs.
Sean Williams was the only Zimbabwean bowler to go wicketless with Chatara and Ngarava equally sharing four while Evans 1 for 9 in two overs.
Zimbabwe: G, Ballance, T Marumani, R Burl l, C Ervine, S Williams, W Madhevere, C Madande, W Masakadza, R Ngarava, B Evans, T Chatara
Ireland: A Balbirnie, M Adair, R Adair, C Campher, G Delany, G Dockrell, S Doheny, F Hand, T Kane, B McCarthy, H Tector
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