Paul Stirling steers Ireland to success over Zimbabwe

Paul Stirling (left) and Andrew Balbirnie after victory for Ireland over Zimbabwe at Bready. Pic by Sportsfile.
Paul Stirling (left) and Andrew Balbirnie after victory for Ireland over Zimbabwe at Bready. Pic by Sportsfile.
Share this article

Paul Stirling smashed 83 not out from 36 balls to lead Ireland to a thumping nine-wicket victory in a rain-affected T20 International against Zimbabwe at Bready.

Stirling’s innings featured seven sixes and six fours as he ruthlessly dealt with a Zimbabwean attack that struggled to find the right line and length to the in-form Irishman.

Stirling first shared a 58-run opening stand from just 30 balls with Kevin O’Brien (19 from 13 balls), then Andrew Balbirnie (28* from 17 balls) joined the fray and with Stirling the pair saw Ireland home, hitting an unbeaten partnership of 76 runs off 35 balls.

Earlier in the day, showers reduced the game to a 13-over a side affair and the Zimbabweans, who lost the toss and were sent in to bat first, got off to a flyer.

Led by Craig Ervine, who smashed 55 from 32 balls, the visitors looked to be mounting a seriously competitive total, ticking along at 11-an-over for the first eight overs.

Sean Williams’ 34 from 12 balls was a delightful cameo, however, late wickets fell and the Zimbabweans’ momentum was restricted in the last three overs.

They ended on 132-8 from their 13 overs – a total that still seemed competitive.

For Ireland, Mark Adair claimed four wickets and Craig Young two wickets on an impressive return to the international set-up.

After an adjustment to the target based on DLS calculations, the Irish side required 134 for victory.

Ireland’s batsmen, though, came out firing and cantered to victory with 13 balls to spare.

Gareth Delany made his international debut for Ireland - with Mark Adair his first T20I appearance.

The two sides meet again on Sunday at Bready in the final T20I of the series, the first having been washed out.