Ireland v Zimbabwe, World T20, Group B, Sylhet March 17, 2014

Ireland hold on for last-gasp win


Ireland 164 for 7 (Stirling 60, Panyangara 4-37) beat Zimbabwe 163 for 5 (Taylor 59, Dockrell 2-18) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Some say the phrase "The luck of the Irish" refers to the good fortune enjoyed by the citizens of that country when they took up mining, with much success, in the United States. Others say it was coined in irony, to reflect on the potato famine and wars that affected the country so badly. After their last-ball win against Zimbabwe on St Patrick's Day, Ireland's cricketers will be inclined to believe the former.

They restricted their Full Member opposition to what was considered a below-par score on a ground hosting its first international match. In response, they seemed to be having their own St Patrick's Day parade, coasting towards a win at 61 without loss after the Powerplay and 99 for 1 at the halfway stage. Then, they started to stutter.

Tinashe Panyangara, who went for 18 runs in his first over, changed ends and delivered a double-wicket maiden in the 15th over to drag Zimbabwe back into the game. Brendan Taylor made the bowler change ends again for his third over and Kevin O'Brien took 15 runs off Panyangara before falling on his sword in the 18th over. Still, Ireland needed only seven runs off the last two overs. Zimbabwe needed a miracle.

Tendai Chatara had bowled intelligently to that point with 17 off three overs and a wicket. He understood the conditions called for a change of pace. With a slew of slower balls, he gave away only three in the penultimate over. Ireland needed four off the last six.

Panyangara stepped up for the final over. The hallmark of his game is death-bowling and he showed it with his third ball - a perfect yorker to dismiss Ed Joyce. The next ball was almost as good but Max Sorensen dug it out and set off for a risky single only to be run out by Sean Williams at mid-off.

Ireland needed two runs. Zimbabwe still needed a miracle. The penultimate ball was a low full toss which Stuart Thompson outside-edged to third man. Ireland were one run away from a win, even as Zimbabwe thought they could pull off a miracle.

Panyangara fired a yorker-length ball, Alex Cusack missed but ran anyway. Taylor was not standing up to the stumps but threw under-arm from his position. Had he hit, Cusack would have been run-out and the match would have gone into a Super Over. He missed and Ireland scrambled the bye for a win.

After the match, a gutted Taylor had no explanation for his decision to not stand closer. "I backed myself to hit the stumps," he said. "But anyway, these things happen. I think we were still 20 runs short."

It turned out Zimbabwe were only two runs short, but Taylor held the batsmen responsible for not capitalising on starts. He was the only one who did, top-scoring with 59. The rest were frustrated by Ireland's spinners and the sluggish surface.

Between them, Paul Stirling, George Dockrell and Andy McBrine gave away only 68 runs in 12 overs and took four wickets. They pegged Zimbabwe back from the outset - Stirling opened the innings with an over that cost just four and then McBrine and Dockrell punctured the Zimbabwe innings. Hamilton Masakadza was caught at short midwicket trying to clear McBrine. Taylor was caught at the extra-cover boundary off Dockrell, looking to break the shackles after Sibanda lost his wicket to the pull shot.

After the Powerplay, Zimbabwe were well positioned at 56 for 1 and looked set for a total of 180-plus. But, at 131 for 5 after 17 overs, even 155 looked out of reach. Elton Chigumbura showed off his finishing skills, scoring 16 off the last over, including two sixes, but Taylor thought even 163 was not enough.

The way Ireland openers William Porterfield and Stirling started seemed to rubber-stamp the Zimbabwe captain's opinion. They raced to 61 without loss in the Powerplay, rendering Zimbabwe's early attack ineffective. Even after they were both dismissed, Ireland marched on.

It was only when Panyangara was brought back from a different end that Zimbabwe came alive again, inspired by his double strike. Prosper Utseya kept O'Brien and Joyce quiet, so did Sean Williams, and Zimbabwe built pressure.

O'Brien was not going to be stopped for too long, though, and when he tore into Panyangara, it seemed Zimbabwe's comeback was short-lived. The bowler, however, made up for his mistakes and delivered a final over that could have seen Zimbabwe win. But it was St Patrick's Day and the Irish have that luck.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 19, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    I have wondered why they used that weird "Cricket Ireland" flag. Now I know, thanks murmur

  • Joe on March 18, 2014, 22:03 GMT

    I don't know what the issue is with the Poynter brothers BOTH of whom play representative cricket for Ireland, following in the footsteps of their Uncle who also played for Ireland. There are a lot of people here who make assumptions about Ireland and Irish cricketers who don't have a clue about what they are talking about. perhaps if they took the time to realise that Irish players are employed by English counties because after they are invited to trials having been spotted by scouts for the counties while playing in Ireland they are deemed good enough to be employed. Counties want to win so they employ players to help them win and they take them on from all over the world!

  • Monamy on March 18, 2014, 18:05 GMT

    If anybody really deserve test status, It should be Ireland. No afghanistan, no Nepal, It's Ireland. They have played consistently in every ICC tournaments in the last few years despite being an associate country. they have been winner in the associate country's tournament. they have beaten many Test playing countries in different big occasions proving that they are not a fluke. if they are given Test status, then hope that players like Eoin morgan and Ryan Ten doeschete won't play for england leaving their own country.

  • marc on March 18, 2014, 14:38 GMT

    @Ashiqur Rahman: As murmur quite rightly points out, the irish cricket team is not a Republic of Ireland cricket team but a joint Northern Ireland and ROI team. You will find that the English cricket team is not a United Kingdom team but relates solely to England and Wales.

    There is a massive difference between 'hiring from other countries' and recognising a person rights to represent the country that they chose to settle and spend their life in. Poynter, Cusack and Sorenson all moved to Ireland with the intentions of calling it home and were not enticed to do so by the Irish crictet union. Their subsequent call up to the irish set up has arisen due to their form in the irish club cricket scene and the rights that stem from irish citizenship. Should Ireland tell these players that they are not wanted because they are not 100% Irish? I'd expect such a stance to open up a massive can of worms!

  • ESPN on March 18, 2014, 14:21 GMT

    How about unofficial five day Test matches? Each top Test team should be asked to play at least one unofficial Test match per year with the top associate nation. If they play well, we can consider giving them Test status.

  • Murieann on March 18, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    @Ashiqur Rahman - Ireland cricket team covers Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland, so Gary Wilson is definitely Irish. Saying he is imported is definitely silly. Cusack decided to live in Ireland in 2005, 3 years before his debut for the ODI, so hardly "recruited". If you compare Ireland's team with, say, England, there is very little difference in terms of numbers of homegrown players vs "foreigners". So I think you need to do some more research yourself.

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    @blarneyarmy Right ... so you are not hiring county player or immigrant players then? Andrew Poynter born in Hammersmith London, Gary Wilson born in N.Ireland (part of UK), Alex Cusack born in Brisbane, Australia, Max Sorensen born in SA !!! So 4 players imported from outside ! Stop recruiting player giving them citizenship. I want to see an Irish team where all the players born and brought up in Ireland like players in Indian, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh team. In sub-content, we produce players not hire players by giving them citizenship or low class player who cant get the chance to their respective home country team ! Lets say Cusack (no offence to him, great player he has been for Irish team) would not get the chance in Australia team. So before you made your point should have checked the details mate. Thanks for reading the information about your own team how they hire cricket.

  • Philip on March 18, 2014, 12:42 GMT

    For those criticising Ireland's cricket administration and structure, they're at least trying to do something about it and had their first season of regional cricket last summer. They are, at least, trying to build something; if only some of those who already have test status could say the same but, at best, the likes of Bangladesh have just stagnated. It's a bit of a vicious circle, you say they need to develop further before they get test status, but without test status they won't develop further because England will continue to nick their best players. Where's the incentive?

    And I would dispute that cricket needs the Asian block to get stronger. What cricket needs is global appeal and to reach out to as many different parts of the world as it can. This closed old boy's network is doing cricket no favours at all.

  • marc on March 18, 2014, 12:30 GMT

    @Ashiqur Rahman. Your recent post shows a complete ignorance of the state of the game in Ireland. You state: 'Hiring from other countries won't help Ireland to get better'. Can you enlighten me who these hired players are? All the county players who played yesterday are home bred products of the Irish youth system (O'Brien, Porterfield, Wilson, Stirling, Dockrell, Joyce). It is true to say that Irish cricket has historically been based on a system of club cricket but things are changing rapidly. Last year a new interprovincial tournament was introduced, providing the non county players with a higher level of cricket than previously provided by the club system. Now these non-county players such as O'Brien, McBrine, Poynter, Cusack etc will have the chance to play a high standard of cricket in a domestic set up. With the continued development of this system we should see a reduction in the number of players travelling to England and an increase in locally based international players.

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    Disappointed ! Zim should have won the game ! I see Irish team as our club level team. Because they do not have cricketing structure but use english county cricket as structure. So anyone can get better if they play in Test countries' domestic cricket. Hiring from other countries won't help Ireland to get better. Stop playing in County and produce world class player. Ireland would only get Test status when Afghanistan will get. We need Asia block to be stronger after all we are cricket having 1.7 Billion population in indian sub continent. from a Bangladeshi supporter.

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