HARARE – Ireland won by 46 runs despite former England batter Gary Ballance’s half century for Zimbabwe as the touring side levelled the three-match one-day international series one all on Saturday.

Put to bat, Ireland totalled 294-7 after opener Stephen Doheny top-scored with 84 runs before fast bowler Josh Little took four wickets to be man-of-the-match as Zimbabwe was bowled out for 248 at Harare Sports Club.

Doheny and Harry Tector (75) shared a third wicket partnership of 57 runs off 56 balls in a commanding batting display, punishing deliveries slightly wide of the stumps.

“Our top-order is really good, and we knew if we bat throughout the innings, we were going to come out strong,” said Doheny.

24-year-old right-hander Doheny was out after Ballance took a brilliant catch at mid-off from leg spinner Ryan Burl’s bowling. It was one of the ex-England international’s four catches in an electrifying fielding performance by the 33-year-old.

In pursuit, Zimbabwe didn’t get partnerships going, as Little’s inspiring bowling effort denied the African side’s batsmen freedom with length and pace variations.

“Josh was absolutely amazing, it’s not surprising that he gets picked for these franchises leagues across the world. He’s a top, top bowler,” remarked Doheny.

Ballance played patiently for Zimbabwe and looked in pretty good nick at the crease, scoring 52 off 67 deliveries.

He was out soon after reaching his fifty, taken at long-off by Graham Hume while attempting an off drive from a lengthy Little delivery.

Opener Innocent Kaia (51) was another Zimbabwe batsman to resist, notching up a half century in a defiant innings.

“We didn’t play at our best today. But definitely on Monday we will come back a much improved side. We are a Test nation, we have to find ways out of situations like this,” Kaia said.

Zimbabwe’s batting line-up was weakened by the absence of captain Craig Ervine, who sat out with a minor injury as a precautionary measure.

Another senior batter, Sean Williams, is also out of the series with a more serious injury that might see him miss the two test matches at home to West Indies in February.

Sikandar Raza was Zimbabwe’s stand-in skipper.


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