Zimbabwe and Ireland produced another close contest, but this time it was Ireland who came out on top to level the T20I series at 1-1 with one to play. A stand of 66 runs off 43 balls between Harry Tector and Curtis Campher turned the game around for Ireland before George Dockrell and Mark Adair took them to victory.

Earlier, an unbeaten stand of 87 for the sixth wicket between Ryan Burl and Clive Madande helped Zimbabwe post 165 for 5 after they were in trouble at 78 for 5.

And then, Richard Ngarava and Blessing Muzarabani didn’t let Andy Balbirnie and Paul Stirling get off to a quick start like in the first game, and Ireland were reduced to 20 for 2 in the chase inside four overs, and struggling to get the ball away on a slow pitch.

Zimbabwe’s bowlers kept it tight and made good use of slower balls to make it difficult to get boundaries. But Tector and Lorcan Tucker took Trevor Gwandu for 18 runs to end the powerplay on a high and give Ireland some momentum. Gwandu struck back in his next over, with Tucker offering a simple catch to short fine.

That’s when Tector and Campher began their repair job, with the duo smartly using the field placements and ground dimensions to ensure the runs kept coming despite Zimbabwe not offering any freebies.

They found the gaps with regularity, and even when they were not getting boundaries, they kept hitting it to the long midwicket boundary for twos.

Ireland were helped by Zimbabwe being stretched thin in the bowling department. With Sikandar Raza banned for two games after collecting demerit points for an altercation with Campher and Josh Little in the first game, they were already without their biggest spin threat. And Sean Williams, who could have troubled the two right-hand batters on a sluggish surface and was Zimbabwe’s stand-in captain, could bowl just one over before a side injury all but ruled him out for the rest of the game.

Zimbabwe had to resort to part-timers in Wessly Madhevere and Brian Bennett, and it was the latter who brought them back into the game with Campher’s wicket, as the allrounder holed out at long-on.

One over later, Ngarava knocked Tector over and Zimbabwe were suddenly bowling at two fresh batters.

But Adair and Dockrell kept their composure and took Ireland to within seven runs of the win in the final over. Adair was the aggressor in the stand, driving Ngarava down the ground for a four before lofting Muzarabani over long-on for a glorious six.

But like in the last game, there was some late drama again as Adair picked out long-on off the first ball of the last over.

One ball later, Tadiwanashe Marumani dropped Dockrell running in from deep cover. Dockrell, however, sliced Luke Jongwe over short third to finish the game with a boundary.

After winning the toss, Ireland had started well as Adair pinned Marumani in front for a first-ball duck. Adair then bounced Madhevere out before Tinashe Kamunhukamwe and Williams set about regaining the momentum for Zimbabwe.

The two laid into Craig Young, smashing him for 22 runs in the fifth over to suddenly make it Zimbabwe’s powerplay.

Kamunhukamwe, playing in Raza’s place, started slow but pulled Young for two sixes. Williams too had raced to 17 when he too fell victim to the short-ball ploy. Legspinner George Delany soon castled Kamunhukamwe before Young had Bennett caught with another short ball.

Zimbabwe’s score could have been lower, but Delany dropped Burl on 16.

Kamunhukamwe and Williams’ counter-attack in the middle meant Burl and Madande could go about doing a repair job, before accelerating at the death.

Burl hit three sixes in his 33-ball 38* and Madande, who played a handy cameo in the first T20I, top-scored for Zimbabwe with an unbeaten 44.

Source: ESPNCricinfo


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