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Tim Murtagh of Ireland, centre, is congratulated by team-mates after taking a wicket against Zimbabwe at Stormont in Belfast.
Tim Murtagh of Ireland, centre, is congratulated by team-mates after taking a wicket against Zimbabwe at Stormont in Belfast.
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Ireland held off a spirited Zimbabwe fightback to win their second one-day international by five runs, clinching the series in the process.

The hosts had kicked off the three-match series with a four-wicket victory at Bready on Monday and looked on course for a comfortable win at Belfast.

Having reached 242 for nine from their 50 overs, with the help of a 111-run opening partnership between James McCollum (73) and Paul Stirling (52), Ireland made quick work of Zimbabwe’s top order.

Tim Murtagh, who ended the match with impressive figures of five for 21, reduced Zimbabwe to 14 for three with his first three wickets in the opening five overs of the response.

However, Craig Ervine (43) and then Sean Williams (58) helped steady the ship to belatedly lay the foundations for a chase that would ultimately run Ireland close, while Ryan Burl (53) also made a notable contribution.

With three balls remaining, Zimbabwe required only eight runs for the win, but Mark Adair finished with a dot ball, the wicket of Burl and the concession of a single to see his side over the line.

Zimbabwe finished on 237-9, giving Ireland the win and clinching the series 2-0 with one to play.

Murtagh said: “It’s massive, a series win is rare, we haven’t had many in the last 7 or 8 years. To be 2-0 up after with one to play – there’s some happy people in the dressing room. We also just spoke of the determination to finish the job on Sunday and go three-nil up.

“We always felt we’d have to bowl well to make 243 a winning score, we were a bit disappointed we hadn’t finished 260 or 270.

“Generally I thought the bowling and fielding display was excellent to keep them below that, so it was nervy in the end – but that’s 50-over cricket when you score 240 to 250, it’ll often go down to the wire. It was important for us to win a close one,” he added.

“It was important to get those three wickets early, and I thought everyone chipped in.”

The third and final ODI will also be played at Belfast on Sunday.