Craig Ervine and Sikandar Raza help Zimbabwe to ODI victory over Ireland
Craig Ervine and Sikandar Raza each notched half-centuries as Zimbabwe emerged from a tight first one-day international against Ireland in Harare with victory by two wickets with only six balls remaining.
After the tourists were put in to bat on Friday, debutant left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza helped restrict them to a tally of 219 for eight - to which Gary Wilson contributed 70 not out and Ed Joyce 53 - by taking the last couple of wickets.
Zimbabwe then just squeezed home, Tinashe Panyangara (eight not out) striking a four in the 49th over to take them past their victory target. Raza also ended unbeaten at the crease on 60, the score Ervine had earlier posted before being ousted.
Ireland's innings started in unconvincing fashion as they slipped to 54 for three, but a fourth-wicket partnership of 83 between Wilson and Joyce saw them gain some momentum.
Things fizzled out somewhat thereafter, though, with John Nyumbu (two for 35) and Masakadza (two for 45) impressing to leave Zimbabwe with a thoroughly achievable-looking target.
The hosts subsequently made tough work of getting there as George Dockrell (two for 29) and Andy McBrine (two for 53) restricted their progress.
But they made it in the end, thanks chiefly to the efforts of Ervine and Raza as Ireland were left to reflect on three dropped catches.
Previous meetings between the two sides have tended to be closely-fought affairs and Ireland will be hoping to draw this three-match series level when they play each other again on Sunday.