HARARE - Zimbabwe’s bowlers put on an inspired show to push Ireland to the brink of defeat but the visitor, inspired by an all-round effort from Tim Murtagh, managed to hold its nerve to come away with a consolation win in the third and final One-Day International in Harare on Tuesday.
Asked to bat, Zimbabwe was off to a poor start and, later, couldn’t really get going in the death. But the host managed to give its total a semblance of respectability because of Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza, both of whom scored half-centuries as Zimbabwe ended on 187 in 49.2 overs.
Murtagh was the pick of the bowlers for Ireland with career-best figures of 4 for 32 from his ten overs.
It looked like a canter for Ireland when it reached 94 for 3 by the halfway stage. But then it slumped to 160 for 8 before Andy McBrine and Murtagh came together and thwarted Zimbabwe’s ambitions. The two of them collaborated for 29 runs and Ireland crossed the line with two wickets and 22 balls to spare.
Taurai Muzarabani, Wellington Masakadza and Tinotenda Mutombodzi picked up two wickets apiece for Zimbabwe.
In the first half of the game, Zimbabwe’s batsmen faltered big time. The openers – Chamu Chibhabha and Richmond Mutumbami – were back in the hut with just seven runs on board. Brain Chari went after scoring 17, but Sean Williams steadily took charge of the innings with 51 from 69 balls before becoming the fourth man out, the scoreboard reading 88 for 4.
It was the partnership between Chigumbura (34 in 63 balls) and Raza that helped Zimbabwe reach drier shores as the two added 71 runs for the fifth wicket. Chigumbura was the fifth man out and Raza, after scoring 50 from 56 balls, was the next to go. After that, Ireland picked up the remaining wickets without much fuss.
In contrast, Ireland looked sturdy at the start. William Porterfield and Paul Stirling put together 31 wickets for the opening wicket. The pressure built with the fall of wickets, and, eventually, it came down to Murtagh and McBrine to see it through.

Scoreboard

ZIMBABWE:
C Chibhabha c N O'Brien b Murtagh 4
R Mutumbami c Porterfield b Young 0
B Chari b McBrine 17
S Williams c N O'Brien b Stirling 51
E Chigumbura c Balbirnie b Murtagh 34
Sikandar Raza b Murtagh 50
C Mutombodzi run out 3
L Jongwe run out 8
W Masakadza c K O'Brien b Murtagh 0
J Nyumbu not out 7
T Muzarabani lbw b K O'Brien 3
EXTRAS: (b1, lb1, w8) 10
TOTAL: (all out; 49.2 overs) 187
FOW: 1-2, 2-7, 3-56, 4-88, 5-159, 6-164, 7-171, 8-174, 9-175, 10-187
BOWLING: C Young 10-0-35-1, T Murtagh 10-0-32-4, G Dockrell 10-1-40-0, K O'Brien 4.2-0-14-1, A McBrine 10-1-47-1, P Stirling 5-0-17-1
IRELAND:
W Porterfield c Sikandar b Muzarabani 20
P Stirling c Mutumbami b Jongwe 50
E Joyce c Chari b Masakadza 7
A Balbirnie run out 24
N O'Brien c Chibhabha b Mutombodzi 1
G Wilson c Nyumbu b Mutombodzi 19
K O'Brien c sub b Masakadza 10
G Dockrell c Nyumbu b Muzarabani 13
A McBrine not out 14
T Murtagh not out 19
EXTRAS: (lb2, w9, nb1) 12
TOTAL: (8 wkts; 46.5 overs) 189
FOW: 1-31, 2-46, 3-94, 4-102, 5-119, 6-140, 7-148, 8-160
BOWLING: T Muzarabani 9.5-1-43-2, L Jongwe 9-1-35-1, W Masakadza 8-1-31-2, J Nyumbu 9-0-37-0, C Mutombodzi 10-0-33-2, C Chibhabha 1-0-8-0
TOSS: Ireland
MAN OF MATCH: T Murtagh (Ire)
MAN OF SERIES: Sikandar Raza (Zim)
UMPIRES: J Cloete (SA), R Tiffin
TV UMPIRE: L Rusere
MATCH REFEREE: J Srinath (India)