Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Stirling definitely had the luck of the Irish on his side
Everybody has heard about the luck of the Irish, but today it actually came true when Ireland walked away with a three-wicket victory on St Patrick’s Day by stealing a bye off the very last ball of their match against Zimbabwe in Sylhet.
Ireland opening batsman Paul Stirling will be the toast of the celebrations as he hammered a spectacular half-century.
Ireland captain William Porterfield would have been pleased with his decision to bowl first early on as Zimbabwe opening batsman Sikandar Raza was caught by Max Sorensen at mid-on off the bowling of Alex Cusack for 10.
Hamilton Masakadza managed to make 21 before he was caught by Porterfield at short midwicket off the bowling of debutant Andy McBrine.
Sean Williams made a quickfire 16 before he was stumped by Gary Wilson off the bowling of McBrine.
Vusi Sibanda also scored 16 runs before he was caught by Sorensen at deep midwicket off the bowling of George Dockrell.
Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor was the standout performer with the bat as he smashed 59 off 46 balls, which included six boundaries and two sixes, before he was caught by Ed Joyce at deep extra cover off the bowling of Dockrell.
Thanks to Taylor, Zimbabwe finished on 163/5 at the end of their 20 overs.
McBrine and Dockrell picked up two wickets apiece, while Cusack chipped in with one.
Chasing 164 to win, Ireland got off to an excellent start as their opening pair of Porterfield and Stirling amassed an 80-run partnership before Porterfield was caught by Timycen Maruma at deep midwicket off the bowling of Williams for 31.
Stirling ended up scoring a brilliant 64, which came off 34 balls and included nine boundaries and a six.
Andrew Poynter made 23 runs before he was caught by Elton Chigumbura at midwicket off the bowling of Tinashe Panyangara.
Panyangara struck again just two balls later when Wilson was caught in the slip region by Masakadza for a duck.
Kevin O’Brien scored 17 runs before he was caught by Williams at long-off off the bowling of Panyangara.
Joyce made 22 before he was clean bowled by Panyangara.
Sorensen failed to trouble the scorers as he was run out by Williams for a golden duck.
Despite the flurry of wickets towards the end, Cusack and Stuart Thompson mopped up the remaining runs and led Ireland to victory off the last ball of the match.
Panyangara was the most successful bowler with a career-best four wickets, while Williams and Tendai Chatara snapped up one wicket each.
Taylor blamed the loss on his team’s batting performance, and said: “Our batters didn’t carry on after their starts, [we were] about 20 runs short. Proud of the way the boys fought. The ball started swinging and it made it a bit difficult for them. I decided to stay back to Panyangara for the last ball because I knew he was a good death bowler. Full and straight was the way to go. These things happen.”
Porterfield was over the moon at having won the match, and said: “All credit to the way Zimbabwe bowled in the last few overs. There might have been a bit more for the seamers under the lights. We have to regroup and make it two from two.”
Stirling was named Man of the Match for his outstanding knock, and said: “Just glad we got over the line. We have played all over Bangladesh in the recent past. [I] Wasn’t really looking towards the final stages of the match.”