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Ireland hold off Zimbabwe to clinch historic series win

IRE v ZIM, 2nd ODI, Report

Ireland secured a dramatic five-run win over Zimbabwe in the second one-day international to win their first home series against a full-member nation. It was also their first home series win against any side since 2014.

The architect of Ireland's win was Tim Murtagh, who took his first five-wicket haul (5/21) in international cricket in his 57th ODI. In a chase of 242, the visiting side was reduced to 14/3 under five overs, thanks to Murtagh's incisive first spell. 

However, the Zimbabwe middle-order stabilized the innings with Craig Ervine, Sean Williams and Ryan Burl getting fifties to run the team close to the required total. With three balls remaining, Zimbabwe needed only eight runs to win but Mark Adair kept this nerve to bowl a dot, dismiss Burl and give a single on the final ball to see his side over the line and ensure a thrilling victory.

McCollum and Stirling shared a 111-run opening stand
McCollum and Stirling shared a 111-run opening stand

Earlier in the day, after losing the toss and being sent in to bat, Ireland's opening pair of Paul Stirling and James McCollum batted brilliantly to register a 111-run opening stand and lay a solid foundation. Both openers hit half-centuries – McCollum's first in ODIs and Stirling's sixth consecutive fifty-plus score. Stirling also became the first Irishman to pass the 4000-run mark in one-day cricket for Ireland.

McCollum (73) persisted even after Stirling's wicket but the Zimbabwe bowlers lead by Solomon Mire fought back as three wickets fell for just 14 runs and Ireland were struggling at 154/4 at one point. Wickets fell at regular intervals and threatened to derail the Irish march but Lorcan Tucker's mature innings of 56 ensured the home team had a decent total on board. 

Solomon Mire was the pick of the bowlers for Zimbabwe, finishing with figures of 4 for 43. He was ably assisted by Sikandar Raza (2/28), whose spin was too much to handle for the Irish batsmen as they struggled to score runs against him. 

The third and final ODI of the series will be played in Belfast on Sunday, 7 July.

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