Ireland Lead Zimbabwe Series As Stirling Hits Century

Cricket Ireland Paul Stirling

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Ireland took a 2-1 lead in their T20 international series against Zimbabwe after a 40-run win over the side at Bready Cricket Club in Derry.

Paul Stirling’s first century in T20 international cricket came at a good time with his 115 pushing Ireland to victory against their visiting opponents.

The Belfast native took centre stage on a day when the second test’s Player of the Match, Kevin O’Brien failed to get up to speed.

Zimbabwe failed to muster a significant reply and they were dismissed for 138 in 18.2 overs.

The hosts rotated their side after their first win of the series in the previous test, making three changes in the form of Mark Adair, Joshua Little and debutant William McClintock who came in for Craig Young, Barry McCarthy and Harry Tector.

Ireland batted first but managed only 33 runs in the Powerplay, losing the wicket of O’Brien in the process.

Stirling, who opened with O’Brien, grew into the game and combined with captain Andrew Balbirnie to put up a 77-run stand.

Stirling reached a half-century for the 19th time in T20I cricket and continued his hot form when Balbirnie went out in the 16th over.

The 30-year-old reached his first century at this level after three sixes and a four in the 19th over against Tendai Chatara and went unbeaten on 115.

Ireland had turned their fortunes around from 60/1 at the halfway stage to 178/2 by the time they completed their overs.

Their bowlers stepped up to produce a tough challenge for the Zimbabwean batsmen, with Mark Adair being the pick of the bunch on his return to the side, posting 3-11.

The aggressive approach from the visitors did not pay off as captain Craig Ervine was the only player to score above 14 runs, putting 33 up for his side.

Ryan Burl managed to score 26 runs from 23 balls but the challenge of scoring 75 in the final 41 balls proved insurmountable and Zimbabwe were bowled out for 138.

Ireland will have the chance to wrap up the series on Thursday, September 2 at 3 pm when the two teams face off at Bready once again.

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