Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Ireland ease to warm-up victory

Niall O'Brien struck 62 in Ireland's victory

Ireland enjoyed a comfortable victory over Zimbabwe as they started their World Twenty20 preparations, winning by 54 runs in Colombo.

Having made huge strides in one-day cricket over recent years, all eyes are on Ireland to see what sort of impression they will make in Sri Lanka.

They gave a nod towards it being a good one at the Moors Sports Club, batting first after being put in and making 181 for five, before restricting Zimbabwe to 127 for eight in response.

Niall O'Brien starred with the bat, making 62 from 49 balls, while Kevin O'Brien (30 not out) and Ed Joyce (29) offered ample support.

George Dockrell and Alex Cusack then equally shared six wickets as Zimbabwe, short of Hamilton Masakadza's 44, made a disappointing fist of their chase.

They were left to rue asking Ireland to bat first, conceding 34 runs off the first 22 balls before they broke the momentum when Brian Vitori got rid of Paul Stirling.

Captain Will Porterfield did not last much longer, going to Chris Mpofu, but that threw Joyce and Niall O'Brien together and then duly shared a partnership of 83 in a little under 10 overs, with their union eventually ended when Joyce became Mpofu's second victim.

O'Brien hung around a little longer before Richard Muzhange found a way to remove him, but by then the damage had been done. Zimbabwe's performance in the field had been sloppy and they could not have had a worse start with the bat either, with Vusi Sibanda trapped lbw by Boyd Rankin with the very first ball.

Captain Brendan Taylor added just three before Trent Johnston snared him and, despite Masakadza adding a breezy 27-ball 44, Ireland were in control, with Dockrell and Cusack coming on to choke the life out of their opponents, who lost six wickets for just nine runs.

Craig Ervine offered mild resistence with 24 but was castled by Dockrell.

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