Cricket: Zimbabwe win is perfect for Ireland
Ireland finished their tour of Zimbabwe with the win that confirmed their top 10 place in the world rankings, but it was much more difficult than it should have been.
Batting first for the third time after captain William Porterfield lost his third successive toss, they posted their highest total (244), but only because of a seventh wicket stand of 66 between Andrew White and John Mooney and 30 for the last between man-of-the-match Mooney (55 off 61 balls) and George Dockrell.
Earlier, William Porterfield had to play an unfamiliar rearguard innings of 46 from 76 balls with just three boundaries after he lost his first three partners inside seven overs and when he was out Ireland were 128 for six.
Despite Trent Johnston having an off-day, his opening bowling partner Kevin O’Brien struck twice in his first 11 balls and Mooney picked up two wickets either side of spinners Albert van der Merwe and Dockrell making vital breakthroughs.
When Zimbabwe were 164 for nine, it should have been all over, but a last wicket stand of 60 kept the Irish on tenterhooks before O’Brien returned to finish the way he started.
Porterfield, as ever, found the positive from yet another early batting collapse.
Porterfield said: “We lost early wickets and that is something we have to address, but the lads coming in five, six, seven and eight have done a tremendous job throughout the series.
“We have been two or three down inside 10 overs, but the lower order has got us up to 240.
“We will take great confidence from that going into the World Cup so when the top order do click we know we can put good totals on the board.
“We felt we let ourselves down in the first two matches so we wanted the win for ourselves. The rankings will look after themselves.”