ZIMBABWE were left ruing their batting frailties once again as they blew a chance to seal a series victory against Ireland with a match to spare after losing the second T20I by five wickets at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
After being bowled out for a modest 144 in their allotted 20 overs, Zimbabwe’s bowlers were unable to take wickets at regular intervals as Ireland sealed a comfortable win despite a spirited late fightback by the hosts, who were cheered on by a big home crowd.
Yesterday’s result which leaves the two teams deadlocked at one match apiece sets up a potentially explosive deciding encounter at the same venue today.
Zimbabwe will need to put on a much better display with the bat after yet another unconvincing show yesterday ultimately cost them what would have been a morale-boosting victory.
Earlier, Chevrons captain Craig Ervine had top-scored with 42 off 40 balls and it was the only notable contribution for the hosts after Ireland won the toss and elected to bowl first in overcast conditions.
South Africa-born seamer Graham Hume, who was making his first appearance in the series after replacing Barry McCarthy in the Irish team repaid the faith shown in him by the selectors after finishing with impressive bowling figures of three for 17 in his four overs.
Offspinner Harry Tector, who had earlier set the tone by claiming the wicket of Tadiwanashe Marumani in the first over finished with two wickets for 22 runs.
Despite the loss of Marumani in the opening over, Zimbabwe got off to a solid start as they raced to 54 runs inside the first six overs.
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The loss of Innocent Kaia, who was run out while on 25 runs off 14 deliveries and Wessly Madhevere for just one run pegged the hosts back.
Zimbabwe’s hopes of a big total were extinguished when Sean Williams (19 off 15) and Ervine were dismissed in quick succession as the hosts slumped from 54 for one after five overs to 144 all out.
In reply, Ireland rose on a brilliant half-century by opening batter Ross Adair, who recently switched to cricket after another sporting career in rugby where he played for top Irish side Ulster.
The 28-year-old all-rounder, brother of paceman Mark Adair, top-scored with 65 runs off 47 balls as Ireland finished on 150 for four in 19.4 to win with two balls to spare.
After his match-winning display in the first game, leg spinner Ryan Burl was yet again Zimbabwe’s most successful bowler after claiming two wickets for 26 runs.