Paul Stirling's stunning innings of 115* in the third T20I helped Ireland register a 40-run win over Zimbabwe and gain a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
Zimbabwe chose to bowl first after winning the toss. Ireland made three changes to the team that won the previous match - perhaps keeping T20 World Cup preparations in mind - with Mark Adair, Joshua Little and debutant William McClintock replacing Craig Young, Barry McCarthy and Harry Tector in the playing XI.
On a slow track in Bready, Ireland were unable to tee off in the Powerplay, managing only 33 runs while also losing the wicket of Kevin O'Brien. The Player of the Match from the previous game couldn't get hold of Luke Jongwe's slower one and failed to clear Craig Ervine at mid-on, falling for nine.
His opening partner Stirling, who was going at less than run-a-ball until the end of the Powerplay, found his touch in the middle overs and passed 50 for the 19th time in T20I cricket. He found good support from skipper Andrew Balbirnie as the two put up a 77-run stand in just 58 balls.
Barbirnie fell in the 16th over to Ryan Burl (1/30) trying to clear the fielder at deep point going inside out. Shane Getkate was promoted up the order and played his role to perfection with an 11-ball 19*.
At the other end, Stirling cut loose in the 19th over, hitting Tendai Chatara (0/47) for three sixes and a four to bring up his maiden T20I century. Ireland, who were 60/1 at the halfway stage, finished on 178/2, with Stirling unbeaten on 115.
Zimbabwe started more aggressively than Ireland but that came at the cost of openers Wesley Madhevere (13) and Tadiwanashe Marumani (14), both of whom were back in the hut by the end of the Powerplay. Regis Chakabva, who has been in fine T20I form of late, couldn't really get going and was trapped in front of the stumps by Ben White in the seventh over for seven.
Getkate returned to the attack and immediately made an impact by removing Dion Myers (14) who holed out at wide long on trying to accelerate the scoring.
Captain Craig Ervine was the only bright spot for Zimbabwe but he found little to no support at the other end. The visitors lost Milton Shumba (6) and Jongwe (7) in consecutive overs and when Getkate scalped Ervine (33), Zimbabwe found themselves at 104/7, still needing 75 from 41 at that point.
Burl's 23-ball 26 came a little too late in the day for Zimbabwe as they were bowled out for 138.
Ireland go 2-1 up in the series with a 40-run win in the third T20I 💪— ICC (@ICC) September 1, 2021
Zimbabwe don't have too much time to ponder as the two teams will square off tomorrow in the fourth match.#IREvZIM| 📸 @cricketireland pic.twitter.com/4wcWYjC9fd
With the 40-run win, Ireland went 2-1 up in the series. Stirling was named the Player of the Match for his innings of 115* off 75 balls.
Ireland will have the chance to wrap up the series tomorrow, 2 September when the two teams face off at Bready.