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Batting concerns dog Zimbabwe

Ireland will be confident of squaring three-match ODI series after running host close in first game

Batting concerns dog Zimbabwe - Cricket News
Zimbabwe's Richmond Mutumbani is being hit by the ball in the head during the final ODI of the 3 match series.
Over the last year or so, Zimbabwe has been extremely competitive as a One-Day International unit, pushing several higher-ranked sides to the limit. However, it mostly ended up falling short, usually by small margins in what had started to become a trend. It was another closely-fought match on Friday (October 9), in a nail-biting first One-Day International against Ireland, Zimbabwe emerging victor this time around by a narrow two-wicket margin. It was a welcome departure from norm and something the host will take confidence from heading into the second game of the three-match series on Sunday at the Harare Sports Club. 
Zimbabwe does have issues to iron out though, especially with its batting. Recent matches have been strewn with some low scores. While it did win against Ireland, it wasn't exactly a walk in the park as it huffed and puffed before crossing the line in pursuit of a 220-run target. While the pitch was admittedly on the slower side and run-making wasn't easy, the likes of Chamu Chibhabha, Sean Williams and Elton Chigumbura, the captain, all got off to starts but could not make them count. That Zimbabwe crossed the line came down to the efforts of two batsmen - Craig Ervine and Sikandar Raza, who both contributed half-centuries. Zimbabwe will hope for more contributions from the rest of the order. 
Going by recent form, bowling is Zimbabwe's stronger suit. All the bowlers came to the party and were among the wickets in the first ODI. Luke Jongwe, the right-arm medium pacer, was on the expensive side, leaking 45 runs from seven overs, but it is unlikely they will tamper with the bowling combination. Zimbabwe will also be pleased with that Wellington Masakadza, the left-arm spinner, impressed on debut, picking up 2 for 45 in 10 overs. 
Ireland will take heart from the fact that its bowlers came up with a spirited effort and refused to give up despite having to defend a modest total. As in the case of Zimbabwe, it was a team effort with the ball. George Dockrell, the left-arm spinner, looked the most threatening, returning figures of 2 for 29 off his quota of 10 overs. And if the surface continues to play slow, he will once again be a vital cog in their attack. 
Ireland's batsmen did not click as a unit, Gary Wilson and Ed Joyce doing the bulk of the scoring. However, the failure to post a good total in the first game should not be too much of a concern as it has an experienced line-up, with several established stars. 
Kevin O'Brien will look to shake off the rust upon his return. O'Brien played his first match after recovering from a hamstring injury on Friday and scored 16, while returning figures of none for 24 off four overs. While he may still be finding his touch, his presence will be a big boost for the visiting side, nonetheless.  
Zimbabwe has blown hot and cold, as evidenced in the series against Pakistan where it made poor scores in two of the three games. Consistency, especially with the bat, is an area it need to work on if it hopes to seal the three-match series on Sunday. It has been a long home season for Zimbabwe, with the Ireland series to be followed by five One-Day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals against Afghanistan. A series win with a match to go will give it much-needed confidence. 
Prior to Friday, Ireland had suffered a 23-run loss via the Duckworth-Lewis method at home against Australia, the world champion. It will look to put behind the disappointment of the twin defeats and regain the touch that gave it much success in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015.
Teams (from):
Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sikandar Raza Butt, Brian Chari, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Luke Jongwe, Neville Madziva, Wellington Masakadza, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Taurai Muzarabani, John Nyumbu, Tinashe Panyangara, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.
Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, John Mooney, Tim Murtagh, Andrew McBrine, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Stuart Poynter (wk), Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson (wk), Craig Young.

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