Craig Ervine’s unbeaten century led Zimbabwe to a five wicket win over Ireland to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three match ODI series in Harare.
The 30 year-old former Lisburn player guided Zimbabwe to the win in a textbook run chase, getting them over the finishing line with nine balls to spare - his 11th boundary securing the win and in the process reaching his second ODI hundred.
Chasing 269 for victory, Ervine - dropped on 64 - took advantage of the reprieve sharing stands of 98 for the third wicket with Sean Williams (43) and 64 in just 61 balls with Friday’s batting hero Sikandar Raza (33).
Kevin O’Brien (2-46) was the pick of the Irish attack, taking his 200th wicket for Ireland in the process.
However, the rest of the attack failed to make a serious impression on a batsman friendly track.
Earlier three Irish batsmen scored half centuries - only the second time this has been achieved by them against a Full Member - the other was the famous World Cup win over the West Indies in Nelson earlier this year.
Paul Stirling top scored with 72 from 77 balls (9 fours) dominating a second wicket stand of 66 with Ed Joyce (17) before both were dismissed in identical fashion - trapped lbw by Sikandar Raza (3-49).
The recalled Niall O’Brien benefitted from an early drop to reach his 15th ODI half-century from 61 balls (2 fours, 2 sixes), sharing a run-a-ball fifth wicket partnership of 64 with Gary Wilson.
Wilson continued his excellent form with a superb 65 from just 55 deliveries, thumping six fours and 3 huge sixes, before being unluckily run out.
Ireland’s final total of 268 for 7 certainly seemed competitive at the half-way stage, but Ervine’s brilliant hundred ensured Zimbabwe will remain above Ireland in the ICC rankings.
Ireland will have the chance to gain a consolation win in the final game of the series at the same venue on Tuesday. Ireland v Zimbabwe, 2nd ODI,
At Harare Sports Club,
IRELAND 268/7 (50 overs, P Stirling 72, G Wilson 65, N O’Brien 50, S Raza 3-49)
ZIMBABWE 270/5 (48.3 overs, C Ervine 101*, S Williams 43, S Raza 33, C Chibhabwa 30, T Mutombodzi 25, K O’Brien 2-46)
Zimbabwe beat Ireland by five wickets and lead 2-0 in the three match series.