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Zimbabwe took a 1-0 lead in the three-game One Day International series against Ireland on Wednesday afternoon with a 38 run victory at Stormont, Belfast.
The series is part of the 2020-23 ICC Cricket World Cup Super League – an ODI league where teams play three-game series’ against each other.
Craig Ervine and Sikandar Raza both reached half-centuries as the visitors built up a total of 266/7 while Zimbabwe’s bowling kept Ireland at bay.
Ervine hit his second half-century in as many games for the Zimbabwean national team after putting up an unbeaten score against Ireland in the final game of the nations’ T20I series.
The left-handed 36-year-old scored the most runs for his team but failed to go unbeaten as Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie got his wicket after 96 runs.
Sikandar Raza took the tempo up a notch when he stepped in, posting an unbeaten 59 from 44 balls to give Zimbabwe a strong finish to their 50 overs.
Ireland started their chase strongly but lost the wicket of Paul Stirling for 32 runs after himself and William Porterfield got Ireland up to 64 runs.
Porterfield fought on as Harry Tector replaced Stirling and gave Graham Ford’s side a second strong partnership in the opening half of their batting.
However, Porterfield was dismissed after 75 runs in 110 balls and the loss of the starter signalled the beginning of a collapse.
Tector kept his cool and managed an impressive 50 from 55 balls before falling victim to the Zimbabwean bowling.
Ireland were in a strong position at 187/3 but a measly 41 runs from the rest of their batsmen handed the opening match to Zimbabwe and gave the side their first ODI win in 10 months.
Lalchand Rajput’s men take an important lead that means Ireland will have to play catch-up for the rest of the series.
Zimbabwe have also won 10 valuable points in the 2020-23 ICC Cricket World Cup Super League – another win will put them five points behind Ireland with six games-in-hand.
Ireland will look to get level in the series on Friday morning when the two sides play the second ODI.