Zimbabwe announce return to the big stage with win against Ireland at the World Cup
Zimbabwe announced their return to the big stage with a statement win over Ireland in their first major tournament appearance since 2016. It was also Zimbabwe’s first World Cup win over Ireland in four meetings across the 50- and 20-over formats, and puts them second on the Group B table behind Scotland.
In chilly conditions and on a surface with extra bounce, Zimbabwe were in early trouble on 39 for 3 inside the first six overs but had soon recovered to 79 for 4 at the halfway stage. Sikandar Raza took the reins from there on, and powered his way to his sixth T20I half-century while also sharing in a 58-run fifth-wicket stand with Milton Shumba.
Raza also added 33 from 17 balls with No. 9 Luke Jongwe at the death to give the bowlers a decent total to defend.
He took on the Ireland spinners, as Simi Singh and Gareth Delaney conceded 52 runs in the five overs they combined to bowl.
However, the pace bowlers weren’t spared by Zimbabwe either, as Curtis Campher and Mark Adair’s seven overs cost 68, with only left-armer Josh Little posing a real threat.
It turned out to be a good day for southpaw seamers, as Richard Ngarava made the first two incisions into Ireland’s line-up.
But Blessing Muzarabani also joined the fun, as Ireland were reduced to 33 for 4 in the powerplay. George Dockrell and Campher put up some resistance with a 42-run fifth-wicket partnership, but once they were separated – by none other than Raza – Zimbabwe’s path to victory was clear.
Though Zimbabwe were untidy at the end by dropping two catches and allowing Ireland’s tail to wag, their bowlers will be pleased with their returns.
Wickets were shared all around, with seven falling to the three quicks and two to the spinners. Sean Williams, who celebrated becoming the player with the longest T20I career of 15 years and 323 days, finished with 1 for 22.