Zimbabwe lost to Ireland by 54 runs, in their International Cricket Council World Twenty20 match played at the Moors Sports Club in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.
Brendan Taylor won the toss and opted to field, giving Ireland the first feel of the wicket in their third match in Sri Lanka. For Zimbabwe, it was their first match after arriving in Colombo on Tuesday evening.
The Irish did not take long to settle and were soon on a canter, led by the O’Brien brothers Niall (62) and Kevin – scorer of the century off 50 balls against England in an ICC Cricket World Cup match here in the subcontinent last year – 30 not out. With the Zimbabwe bowlers not doing much to stem the tide, Ireland put up 181 for the loss of five wickets, in their allotted 20 overs.
Christopher Mpofu picked up three wickets for 39 runs in four overs, Brian Vitori one for 12 in three and Richard Muzhange one for 38 in four.
The Zimbabwe chase got off poorly with Vusimuzi Sibanda falling to the first ball of the innings when he was caught leg before wicket by Boyd Rankin. Captain Brendan Taylor perished to Trent Johnston in similar fashion, having made just three runs off nine balls. Zimbabwe were two down for 19 runs in 3.3 overs.
It was left to the in-form Hamilton Masakadza and Craig Ervine, promoted to number four, to steady the ship with their third-wicket partnership of 55 runs, which was broken when Masakadza was caught by substitute fielder S. Thompson off the bowling of Dockrell. He fell six runs shy of a half-century.
After that there was no way back for Zimbabwe. Although a battling Prosper Utseya did find a willing ally in an equally combative Raymond Price, all it ensured was that they would be the last men standing when the Zimbabwe innings came to a close, unbeaten on 23 and 17 respectively.
Ireland – 181 for 5 in 20 overs:
(N. O’Brien 62, K. O’Brien 30*, Ed Joyce 29; C. Mpofu 3-39)
Zimbabwe – 127 for 8 in 20 overs:
(H. Masakadza 44, C. Ervine 24; G. Dockrell 3-28)
Ireland won by 54 runs.