HARARE - Craig Ervine and Sikandar Raza both hit 60 as Zimbabwe clinched a two-wicket win over Ireland in the first of three ODIs between the teams in Harare.
The hosts restricted Ireland to 219-8 in their 50 overs with Gary Wilson scoring an unbeaten 70 while Ed Joyce added 53.
Ireland reduced Zimbabwe to 171-7 but Raza's unbeaten knock helped them to victory with an over to spare. The second game takes place on Sunday before a potential decider on Tuesday. Spinner George Dockrell was the pick of the Irish bowlers with 2-29.
Earlier, two half-centuries propped up Ireland as they finished with a pedestrian 219 for eight. Ed Joyce made 53 at the top of the innings, but took 88 balls to reach this total before a rush of blood saw him slashing John Nyumbu to Elton Chigumbura at extra cover for an easy catch. Gary Wilson stood firm, guiding the rest of the batting line-up to the end, top-scoring with an unbeaten 88-ball 70.
The Zimbabwe bowlers all shared in the spoils, with Nyumbu taking 2-35 in his 10 overs.
Earlier, Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to field. The second match is on Sunday, and the final will be on Tuesday. The tour will conclude with a four-day match against a Zimbabwe XI, all at the same venue.
Ireland hope to end the series still ahead of Zimbabwe in the world rankings. The Irish started the series in 10th and Zimbabwe 11th, with the tourists holding a two-point advantage over their rivals. Zimbabwe fell to a 2-1 series defeat by Pakistan in Harare last week.

Scoreboard

IRELAND :
W Porterfield c Masakadza b Chibhabha 9
P Stirling c Sikandar b Panyangara 24
E Joyce c Chigumbura b Nyumbu 53
A Balbirnie c Masakadza b Jongwe 5
G Wilson not out 70
K O'Brien c Waller b Nyumbu 16
S Thompson lbw b Williams 1
J Mooney c Jongwe b Masakadza 5
G Dockrell st Mutumbami b Masakadza 1
A McBrine not out 23
EXTRAS: (b2, lb3, w7) 12
TOTAL: (8 wkts; 50 overs) 219
FOW: 1-36, 2-39, 3-54, 4-137, 5-158, 6-160, 7-172, 8-176
BOWLING: T Panyangara 7-1-25-1, L Jongwe 7-0-45-1, C Chibhabha 7-1-19-1, J Nyumbu 10-0-35-2, W Masakadza 10-0-45-2, S Williams 9-0-45-1
ZIMBABWE :
C Chibhabha c Murtagh b McBrine 22
R Mutumbami c McBrine b Mooney 9
C Ervine c Wilson b McBrine 60
S Williams st Wilson b Dockrell 24
E Chigumbura c Wilson b Dockrell 16
Sikandar Raza not out 60
M Waller c Thompson b Murtagh 1
L Jongwe run out 5
W Masakadza run out 10
T Panyangara not out 8
EXTRAS: (lb5, w2) 7
TOTAL: (8 wkts; 49 overs) 222
FOW: 1-17, 2-44, 3-98, 4-124, 5-152, 6-161, 7-171, 8-209
BOWLING: J Mooney 5-1-24-1, T Murtagh 10-0-52-1, A McBrine 10-0-53-2, P Stirling 10-0-35-0, G Dockrell 10-0-29-2, K O'Brien 4-0-24-0
TOSS: Zimbabwe
MAN OF MATCH: Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe)
UMPIRES: J Cloete (SA), R Tiffin (Zim)
MATCH REFEREE: J Srinath (Ind)