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Raza, Ervine carry Zimbabwe over the line

Ireland fights hard after putting up 219/8, but home side wins with two wickets and an over to spare

Raza, Ervine carry Zimbabwe over the line - Cricket News
Sikandar Raza's unbeaten 60 gave Zimbabwe a two-wicket win in the first ODI against Ireland.
Sikander Raza and Craig Ervine hit half-centuries as Zimbabwe beat Ireland by two wickets with six balls to spare in a thrilling One-Day International in Harare on Friday (October 9).
 
After a disciplined bowling effort restricted Ireland to 219 for 8 in 50 overs despite half-centuries from Gary Wilson (70 not out) and Ed Joyce (53), Ervine and Raza made 60 each to give the home side a victory in the first game of a three-match series. 
 
Set a target of 220, Zimbabwe lost Chamu Chibhabha and Richmond Mutumbami, the openers, within the first 10 overs. Ervine then guided the home side in the first half of its chase, making a steady 78-ball 60 including five boundaries, even as Ireland's spinners kept the side in the game with tight spells in the middle overs. 

George Dockrell, in particular, looked threatening and triggered a comeback with two quick strikes, getting the vital scalps of Elton Chigumbura and Ervine to leave Zimbabwe in a spot of bother at 152 for 5. However, Raza took control of the chase with an unbeaten 60 off 72 balls with four boundaries and shepherded the tail to seal the win. 
 
A couple of run-outs in the latter half of the chase threatened to take the game away from Zimbabwe, but Raza remained firm. 
 
Earlier, Ireland's batsmen were made to work hard for their runs on a pitch that was on the slower side. Just like Zimbabwe's innings was to pan out, Ireland too lost its openers cheaply before a couple of fifties helped the side recover. 
 
After Paul Stirling, William Porterfield and Andy Balbirnie fell with less than 60 on board, Joyce guided Ireland at the top with a patient 88-ball 53, including a six and two fours. However, Zimbabwe always managed to keep the scoring rate in control through its slower bowlers. 
 
Ireland was 137 for 4 in the 36th over when Joyce fell, but Wilson provided a good finish while batting with the lower order. The wicketkeeper-batsman scored 70 off 84 balls even as wickets tumbled at the other end, and with the help of a cameo from Andy McBrine (23 not out off 14 balls), took Ireland over 200.  
 
In the end though, Zimbabwe had just enough reserves to get over the line.

The second game of the series takes place at the same venue on Sunday.

To view the full scorecard, please click here.

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