Ireland skipper falls in love with Zim

Ireland national cricket team captain Andrew Balbirnie

Ireland national cricket team captain Andrew Balbirnie has saluted Zimbabwean fans for creating an electric atmosphere at Harare Sports Club in Sunday's third and final T20 international which was won by the hosts.

The arena was almost full to capacity, with the crowd at its loudest and Balbirnie believes the atmosphere at Harare Sports Club is only second to matches involving India.

“We play Zimbabwe the most, we love coming here to play cricket, we hope they love coming to Ireland and play us there,” he said.

“They are evenly contested games, they have experienced players like Ervine, Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza. Williams is going to miss the One Day Internationals, hopefully his finger gets better we want to play against these really good players. Zimbabwe is a passionate nation, you saw the atmosphere in the last few games was really amazing, I couldn't hear myself a lot of the times. It’s just a good place to come and play cricket and we are hoping for the same in the ODIs.

“I said apart from when you play India, it's probably the best atmosphere to play in. It’s just so loud, so consistent and I have seen my mom and dad somewhere out there. It’s really nice, it's not hostile, it's friendly and everyone just wants to be here and we want to play good cricket and entertain the fans. We have enjoyed the crowd and hope it continues."

He hopes that his team can improve in the ODIs that kick off tomorrow at the same venue after they lost the T20 series 2-1.

Zimbabwe coach Dave Houghton was pleased to see his team notch up their second series win since he took over from Lalchand Rajput.

“I am really happy to win our second series here. Part of our growth is to be really strong at home. This is one of the things that I have talked to the players about that when we are at home, people don’t want to come and play us. I want us to be a difficult team to beat in our own conditions and winning a second home series is a good start,” Houghton said.

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