23 January 2010

A fine all round display by Ireland saw them comprehensively defeat Zimbabwe by seven wickets to advance to the semi finals of the Plate Competition.

In a rain affected game, Ireland were left to chase a Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target of 110 for victory in 27 overs. They got there with 6.4 overs to spare, as Paul Stirling scored 65 from just 51 deliveries.

He made the most of an early reprieve, dropped off a difficult chance by Waller at first slip off Chitara before he had scored.

Stirling then smashed seven trademark fours, and a magnificent straight six, before being dismissed with two runs needed. He shared in a 3rd wicket stand of 63 in 75 balls with skipper Andy Balbirnie, who dropped down to number four in the order.

That move worked well as Balbirnie looked very assured in scoring an unbeaten 20 from 44 balls – sporting a newly shorn haircut, the Pembroke man didn’t suffer the same fate as Samson, as he recovered his ‘mojo’.

The other wickets to fall for Ireland were Stuart Thompson (7), caught off his glove the keeper down the leg side, and Lee Nelson (13), who drove tamely to mid off in spinner Mugava’s first over.

Earlier, it was the opening attack of Shane Getkate, and Craig Young who made early inroads into the Zimbabwe top order.

Three wickets fell in the opening 13 balls, and at 8 for 3, it was always going to be difficult for the Africans.

Young bowled with genuine pace and hostility, troubling all the batsmen, and a final analysis of 4-14 didn’t flatter him. It’s not hard to see when he bowls like this, just why Sussex are keen to take another look at him.

The recalled Getkate drew the short straw of having to bowl into a stiff breeze, but acquitted himself well to finish with 2-40.

Zimbabwe recovered slightly from 49-6 to 90-6, before steady drizzle forced the teams from the field. On the resumption, they had just another 3 overs to face, but could only manage to add 12 runs and leave 5 balls unused.

George Dockrell (2-7), and Andy Balbirnie (1-7) doing the damage in the final few overs..

Peter Moor (28), Natsai Mushangwe (24), and Nathan Waller (17), were the only players to reach double figures.

Their final total of 102 all out was adjusted upwards to 109, but for a strong Irish batting line-up, the target was never a serious challenge.

Ireland now face Canada in the semi-final on Monday at Fitzherbert Park in Palmerston North.

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