A period of sublime form - it started with a match-winning knock in The Hundred final - has seen Stirling climb to seventh on the all-time T20I run-scorers' list. He controlled the innings from start to finish and set the tone when he slog-swept the fourth ball he faced over long-on for the first of eight sixes.
Craig Ervine looked an in-control captain in the two matches before this one and has handled his bowlers with assurance but he might have considered doing things slightly differently today. With Tendai Chatara and Luke Jongwe leaking runs and pace off the ball proving useful, Wessley Madhevere's offspin could have been used for more than two overs, especially as he was Zimbabwe's most economical bowler. In Ervine's defence, Madhevere's spell came before Stirling started to accelerate and the captain may have defaulted to his more experienced players but Madhevere has given Zimbabwe an option to explore further in future. His domestic record is nothing to scoff at. In 20 T20s, Madhevere has bowled 32 overs and has an economy rate of 7.46.
On cue, Ireland used an offspinner to open the bowling for them and it was someone Zimbabwe had seen more than enough of. Stirling, who batted through the Irish innings, was at the top of his mark as Zimbabwe's innings started. His first two deliveries were worked around for singles but then Madhevere got hold of him with three successive fours: two sweeps either side of a skip down the track to hit him over mid-off. Stirling's only over cost 14 runs and Zimbabwe were off to a good start but it didn't last.
Madhevere only faced two more balls before he tried to hit Mark Adair over mid-off but sliced the ball straight to Andy Balbirnie in the covers and the problems began. Tadiwanashe Marumani, Regis Chakabva and Dion Meyers were dismissed within 21 balls of each other to leave Zimbabwe 56 for 4 inside eight overs and underline some serious problems in the top five. While Ireland have had five batters score 30-plus runs in the three matches in the series so far, Zimbabwe have only had two: Regis Chakabva in the first match and Craig Ervine in this one. Look a little deeper, and the gulf between the two sides becomes even more glaring. Ireland have scored one fifty (O'Brien in the second match) and one hundred (Stirling, today) while Zimbabwe have had no half-centuries in the series so far.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent