An excellent all-round effort from Curtis Campher and Andy Balbirnie’s half-century helped Ireland win the rain-hit third ODI and win their first men’s ODI series in Zimbabwe 2-0.

Career-best bowling performances from Campher and Graham Hume helped restrict Zimbabwe to 197 in 40 overs before Balbirnie, Campher and Harry Tector knocked off the target with 13 balls to spare in Harare.

Set a DLS-adjusted target of 201 from 40 overs, Ireland lost Paul Stirling early, but a 70-run stand between Balbirnie and Campher meant that the visitors were set to finish their tour of Zimbabwe on a high barring a spectacular collapse.

While Balbirnie struggled to get the ball away in the first ten overs, opting for a more watchful approach on a tricky surface, Campher followed up his half-century from the second ODI with a fluent 40 with six boundaries before a stunning catch from Wellington Masakadza at midwicket denied him consecutive fifties.

Balbirnie continued to hold one end down as Tector then went about being the aggressor as they added another 63 runs to consolidate Ireland’s position.

Tector got a leading edge to Sikandar Raza off Luke Jongwe on 33 after Balbirnie reached his half-century off 76 balls, but Balbirnie then shifted gears, hitting 32 runs off his next 26 balls, to complete the chase with ease. A six off a Jongwe slower ball and sweep over short fine leg off Raza were the highlights of an innings which saw Balbirnie grow in confidence. In the process, he became just the fourth Irishman to hit 3000 ODI runs.

Lorcan Tucker hit back-to-back boundaries to crown Ireland winners of both the ODI and T20I series.

Ireland had started well after inserting Zimbabwe as Mark Adair kicked things off with a maiden. Hume gave Ireland the early breakthrough when Tinashe Kamunhukamwe edged him to second slip in the second over and Adair followed it up with another maiden.

But Gumbie and Kaitano dug in to ensure Zimbabwe did not lose any more wickets in the first powerplay, despite a couple of edges evading the slips cordon.

The two steadily added 43 runs before some sharp fielding from Tector at backward point saw him throw the stumps down to send Kaitano packing in the 14th over. Innocent Kaia, back in the side after being dropped in the second ODI due to Ryan Burl’s concussion, was out lbw to Campher next over. Raza then joined Gumbie at the crease, but just as they started to milk the spinners Theo van Woerkom and Andy McBrine for some quick runs, rain stopped play.

When the game resumed after a two-hour delay, Zimbabwe were immediately on the front foot. Raza pulled a Theo van Woerkom drag-down for six while Gumbie got a streaky boundary off Craig Young while trying to steer him to deep third.

Gumbie soon got to his second ODI fifty, off 80 deliveries, before Raza swept van Woerkom for four more, to bring up the fifty-run stand for the fourth wicket off 52 balls. The two continued to cash in on anything that was too short or too full, while also rotating strike with regularity.

But Campher broke the innings open by having Raza caught at deep midwicket off a pull before bowling Clive Madande through the gate over for a two-ball duck in the same over. Luke Jongwe and Brandon Mavuta tried to play their shots before they both flicked Hume to George Dockrell at deep square leg in near-identical dismissals.

Gumbie, who played a number of innovative scoops and ramps in his 106-ball 72, was soon run-out as Masakadza tried to run two after pulling Craig Young to long-on. Masakadza hit 24 off 19 to take Zimbabwe close to the 200-run mark, before he holed out trying to clear long-on.

It was a better batting effort after disappointing displays in the first two ODIs, but not enough for Zimbabwe, who now have plenty of ponder as a disappointing streak of results continued.

Source: ESPNcricinfo


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