The Sunday Mail
IRELAND’S Ross Adair, playing only his second international game, stroked a 47-ball 65 to help Ireland to a six-wicket victory against Zimbabwe and level the three-match series going into the decider at Harare Sports Club this afternoon.
The lanky 26-year-old turned out to be one of the biggest stories of the day, during which Zimbabwe Cricket saw one of their biggest crowds, courtesy of a successful fill-up Harare Sports Club campaign.
Gary Ballance sat out yesterday’s game due to a mild concussion after he was hit on the head by a ball during the first encounter between the two sides.
“Ballance was presenting with symptoms of mild concussion and, as a precautionary measure, we recommended that he be rested in order for him to fully recover,” said Zimbabwe team doctor Solomon Madzogo in a statement just before the toss.
Innocent Kaia came in as his replacement. Zimbabwe were put to bat first after the visitors had won the toss.
They were bowled out for a paltry 144 runs in their allotted 20 overs.
In what is becoming a reoccurring theme, the Chevrons put up a dismal batting performance, as the top-order proved to be wobbly again.
Zimbabwe lost their first wicket of the day as early as the first over when Tadiwanashe Marumani was caught out by Mark Adair from a Harry Tector fifth delivery.
Kaia together with Craig Ervine tried to steady the ship, making use of the batting powerplay, which saw them race to 54 for two inside the first six overs.
That was, unfortunately, undone when Kaia was run-out from a mix-up with his captain and departed for 25 runs off 14 balls.
Ervine tried to lead from the front, but his effort was in vain as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 144 runs inside their 20 overs.
Communication problems dogged the team, as three of Zimbabwe’s batters – Kaia, Clive Madande (9) and Richard Ngarava (0) — fell through run-outs.
With 144 runs on the board, Ireland made light work of the chase and reached it with two deliveries to spare and plenty of wickets in hand.
The chase was spearheaded by Adair’s 65 off 47 balls and largely benefited from a 59-run third-wicket partnership between the 26-year-old and Harry Tector.
Zimbabwe’s bowlers found the going tough, as only Ryan Burl managed to get any sort of traction.
Burl finished with two for 26 runs, while Richard Ngarava and Tendai Chatara chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Despite the loss, Ervine remains confident of his charges bouncing back to seal the series when the two sides meet again this afternoon.
“We had our opportunities to put a decent score on the board and defend it. Unfortunately, we only got 144 and we would have had to bowl extremely well to defend that,” said the Zimbabwe skipper.
“Tomorrow (today), we come back with a bit of added pressure when we play the decider, but we don’t need to dissect too much from our game.
“I am confident that we can clinch the series.
“We did play some good cricket today (yesterday), and it is a very quick turnaround.”
He also commended Kaia’s performance.
“You saw how he batted, and I do not think that his (Ballance) absence affected us too much,” added the Chevrons skipper.