Zimbabwe v Ireland, 1st ODI, Harare September 26, 2010

Zimbabwe edge low-scoring thriller

ESPNcricinfo staff

Zimbabwe 206 for 8 (Taibu 62, Chigumbura 41, Dockrell 3-27) beat Ireland 200 (Wilson 69, White 47, Rainsford 4-23) by two wickets

Ed Rainsford was Zimbabwe's hero as they squeaked home with a last-ball, two-wicket win in the first one-day international at Harare Sports Club. Chasing 201, the home side needed six runs from the final over and managed to draw level with some frantic running before Rainsford clubbed the last ball from Kevin O'Brien - a full toss - over long leg for six to seal the match. Rainsford had also come to the fore with the ball, nipping out three top-order wickets and returning to take a fourth as Ireland were bowled out in the 48th over, and was deservedly named Man of the Match for his efforts.

Ireland were undoubtedly 30 to 40 runs short after being put in by home captain Elton Chigumbura, but they rallied with the ball and the Zimbabwean batsmen were on the defensive from the moment Hamilton Masakadza was nipped out first ball by O'Brien. Tatenda Taibu's 15th ODI half-century kept Zimbabwe on course, but when he was dismissed by Trent Johnston for 62 the momentum swung back to Ireland .

When Charles Coventry was run out in the 43rd over Zimbabwe still needed 48, with Chigumbura the last recognised batsman at the crease. He responded with a calm knock under pressure, brushing off the loss of Prosper Utseya with a straight six - the first of the innings - in the 48th over to reduce the runs still required to under 20. But when he slapped a full-toss from Trent Johnston straight to John Mooney at long-on one over later Ireland were back on top, as Graeme Cremer was joined at the crease by Rainsford with only Chris Mpofu still to come.

Either batsman could have been run out off the last ball of the 49th over, but Will Porterfield's throw was wide and amid further frenzied running in the last six balls there was a moment of controversy.

The Irish were convinced a diving Rainsford had been caught short of his ground when Niall O'Brien whipped the bails off as the batsmen pushed for a tight second run from the penultimate ball. But umpire Amiesh Saheba ruled Rainsford safe, and with the scores level a repeat of the two sides' tied encounter at the 2007 World Cup was a distinct possibility. But Rainsford responded to the pressure with the first international six of his career to seal Zimbabwe's win in the first of a three-match one-day series.

Rainsford had also played a leading role in the field, taking a career-best 4 for 23 as Ireland were dismissed with 15 balls still remaining in their innings. He was on a hat-trick in his first over when Porterfield and the elder O'Brien were removed in consecutive balls, and though Niall's younger brother Kevin survived his first ball Rainsford and his new-ball partner, Mpofu, kept up the pressure and Ireland's top four had been sent back before the end of the 10th over.

Andrew White and Gary Wilson averted disaster with a 115-run stand for the fifth wicket before both were removed by legspinner Graeme Cremer to stall Ireland's charge at the end of their innings. Mooney and Johnston swung merrily, but when Zimbabwe's opening pair returned the lower order folded quickly and Masakadza then closed the innings when he had George Dockrell caught by Coventry.

To their credit, Ireland fought back well in the field and the 18-year-old Dockrell put Zimbabwe under real pressure with 3 for 27 in 10 overs of guileful left-arm spin. In the event, Zimbabwe had just enough in the tank to squeeze past the visitors, and though they will take an important 1-0 lead in the series the signs suggest that the next two games should be closely-fought encounters.

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  • Ricardo on September 29, 2010, 20:05 GMT

    Ramesh - I was actually not disagreeing with you. I think that maybe because I said "people from the sub-continent don'r understand how the regulations affect ireland" you may have assumed I was taking a swipe at you. That was not the case. I just know that they do have a rough deal with regards to the UK residency rules affecting some players born in scotland & Northen ireland, or who's parents were born in the UK, disadvantage scotland and ireland, and give england as the only test nation and advantage. Some bangladeshi fans were comparing this to the ICL senario, and I disagreed.

    Personally, I feel that ireland & bangladesh both deserve test status, but ICC should help ireland set up a 3/4 1st class programme first. Also they should find ways to fast track Kenya, canada, holland and other associates to done the same. The more test nations, the better for everyone. Rather than setting up nations against each other, why don't the ICC help more nations get to test level???

  • james on September 27, 2010, 22:22 GMT

    @Migara who won the last game btwn ireland n afghanastan?ireland were missin 5/6 of their frontline players not including joyce/marshall in that match.Afghan beat ire when we r totally out of form n ye r a v good team. The afghan story is wonderful for the game. I think why peep get excited by ire is that any player of immense talent we have gets drafted to our more illustrious neighbours and we need protection frm the ICC but does not seem forthcoming at the moment. In fact the opposite is true with their joke of a proposal for the 2015 world cup. @Firai Anderson Ireland r missing Rankin, Cusack, Joyce, Morgan, Botha & MArshall from our side. So i thinkk the same thing goes for ireland as Zim when it comes the amount of poten players missing

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2010, 21:48 GMT

    @ Migara, Ireland have proven for years they are the best Associate country out there, you can bring Afghanistan into this if you wish, but Afghanistan beat Ireland in a warm up game with little counting on it, and the results between the two countries is quite close if I'm correct,

    I'd be happy to wager a lot on Ireland beating them again when it counted,

    and this is not an attack on Afghanistan, they have shown they are getting better, but people comparing them to Ireland I think is unfair, wait till they have done what Ireland have done at the associate level and at the World Cup's then we can talk,

    anyways Migara this is just what I think, and you are entitled to your opinion also :),

    I just like to see the big boys opening their playing fields to smaller teams and helping make Cricket better for everyone...

  • Ranga on September 27, 2010, 18:09 GMT

    All the people getting very excited about IRE. But remember that Afgans have been beating IRE for fun these days. Even India would take Hamid Hasan of AFG! I think both IRE and AFG should be granted test status and let Afgans play their home matches in India.

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2010, 18:05 GMT

    the only pple talking sense are dashee and L.Pearce. Yes Zim won but with two games coming they are going to get better. and also the main point is to win. many teams have pushed other teams but winning is all it's about. and yes Vusi is playing crap and think he will be dropped for tomorrow. and i don't know what you are saying about if the irishe had this and that. remember blignaut, lamb and price were not playing. and i still stick to my point that shingi masakadza is not yet good enough for ODI's just like kyle jarvis. Yes they have talent but they are still reckless sometimes

  • tino on September 27, 2010, 17:01 GMT

    hahaahah come on guys yoyu think ireland have a chance aganist Zim?? wat happened yesterday was a mistake you will see when Zim is in full form and you understand wat I mean, coz Zim is way too strong for Ireland :)

  • TholletBeura on September 27, 2010, 15:28 GMT

    Well the match was a big theiller l hope the series wil remain interistin. bt i wasnt happy with Zim perfmnce and i thik we were a bowler shoet

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    Good game - Ireland needed more runs. Whatever you think of the relative merits of Ireland, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh etc, can we all agree that Ireland or the other top associates deserve to be at the World Cup? ICC want to stop it. Ireland got to the Super Eights in 2 of the last 3 ICC tournaments. Sign the petition to keep cricket worldwide and not a cosy 10 member club - http://www.cricketeurope4.net/PETITION/index.shtml

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2010, 14:26 GMT

    Why all the three matches to be played in Harare; Zim Cricket should learn from South Africa, matches should be distributed around all the venues; Bulawayo fans have been starved of matches; especially these so called three ODI series, Queens Sports Club boasts of one of the best turf in the world!!!!

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    No one is interested in Zimbabwe (expect the vote they bring to the table). Even olanga has buried his hatchet against the Mugabe/Chinese regime.

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