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Balbirnie and Adair lead the way for classy Irish

 

Got him: Ireland ace Mark Adair celebrates getting a wicket
Got him: Ireland ace Mark Adair celebrates getting a wicket

By Ian Callender

Revenge is a dish best served cold and in temperatures significantly lower than at the World Cup qualifying tournament in Harare last year, Ireland took a 1-0 lead in the one-day international series against Zimbabwe.

Ireland were bowled out for 104 the last time these teams met; yesterday at Bready they passed that total in the 24th over for the loss of only one wicket on their way to a four-wicket victory with Shane Getkate, on his ODI debut, hitting the winning runs.

Andrew Balbirnie with his fifth ODI century set up the win and appeared to be seeing them home but when a fatal error of judgment cost him his wicket - he was run out by the bowler - it left Ireland needing 26 from 28 balls.

It could have been even worse next ball when Getkate pushed the ball into the covers and took off. Mark Adair, the new batsman, responded but would have been out without facing if Sikander Raza's throw had hit the stumps.

It was to prove Ireland's last scare, however, as Adair powered his first ball to the boundary, hit Kyle Jarvis, Zimbabwe's strike bowler, for a straight six in the next over and two more fours in the 48th over tied the scores.

Despite Balbirnie's century, Adair was a live contender for man of the match because, as well as his 21 not out from 13 balls, he took four wickets, including two with the new ball.

Indeed, he uprooted Tinashe Kamunhukamwe's middle stump with his first delivery and trapped Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza leg before in his third over.

With the third ball of his second spell he had former CI professional PJ Moor caught behind and in the last over forced Jarvis to sky to cover. The only downside was the concession of 73 runs, but is that worse than Tim Murtagh's accurate 1-42?

Getkate had to wait just 14 balls to pick up his first ODI wicket, the big one of the experienced Brendan Taylor, and he followed up by having Sean Williams plumb in front to complete a more than satisfactory first seven overs.

Andy McBrine bowled another tidy 10 overs and had Raza stumped by Lorcan Tucker, the Pembroke keeper's first dismissal for Ireland, after coming in for Gary Wilson who sat out the match along with Tyrone Kane and Simi Singh.

The other wicket was taken by Paul Stirling, with his final ball, but it accounted for Craig Ervine, the former Lisburn and Northern Knights batsman who topped Balbirnie's score, hitting 13 fours in a chanceless 105 before he was caught on the long-on boundary.

James McCollum, despite a run of five ODIs with a top score of five, retained his place and after surviving a loud appeal for lbw to his first ball, actually outscored Stirling in the opening stand of 28.

Indeed, when McCollum was caught behind off the inside edge at the end of the ninth over for 21, with three fours, Stirling had scored just four singles and a two to that point.

The unthinkable that Stirling would not hit a boundary in the 10-over powerplay, however, didn't materialise because he smashed his next ball to thirdman and then shared a partnership of 105 with Balbirnie.

It could have been different if first slip had got a hand on a Stirling edge off Jarvis and, next over, Taylor dropped Balbirnie down the leg side.

They were to be expensive misses as Stirling reached 50 for the 30th time in 109 innings - as well as a record fifth in a row for Ireland.

Stirling's dismissal, for 57, was the first of three in four overs as William Porterfield was caught behind and Kevin O'Brien pulled one straight to deep mid-wicket but the new blood in this side have loads of talent and are desperate to show it.

So, while Balbirnie brought up his century in 109 balls, with nine fours and two sixes, Tucker scored freely at the other end and Getkate and Adair ensured no panic in the finale.

The series continues at Stormont on Thursday.

Scoreboard

ZIMBABWE

H Mazakadza lbw b Adair 15

T Kamunhukamwe b Adair 0

C Ervine c Balbirnie b Stirling 105

B Taylor c O'Brien b Getkate 12

S Williams lbw b Getkate 28

Sikander Raza st Tucker b McBrine 8

PJ Moor c Tucker b Adair 17

R Burl not out 49

D Tiripano c Getkate b Murtagh 2

K Jarvis c McBrine b Adair 4

T Chatara not out 4

Extras (3lb 7w) 10

Total (9 wkts, 50 overs) 254

Fall: 1-1 2-20 3-49 4-104 5-129 6-168 7-210 8-224 9-243

Bowling: T Murtagh 10-0-42-1, M Adair 10-1-73-4, S Getkate 7-1-33-2, B Rankin 10-0-49-0, A McBrine 10-0-34-1, P Stirling 3-0-20-1

IRELAND

P Stirling c Taylor b Chatara 57

J McCollum c Taylor b Jarvis 21

A Balbirnie run out 101

W Porterfield c Taylor b Chatara 6

K O'Brien c Raza b Chatara 5

L Tucker c Burl b Jarvis 23

S Getkate not out 16

M Adair not out 21

Extras (1lb 6w 1nb) 8

Total (6 wkts, 48.3 overs) 258

Did not bat: A McBrine, B Rankin, T Murtagh

Fall: 1-28 2-133 3-142 4-150 5-214 6-229

Bowling: K Jarvis 9.3-1-43-2, T Chatara 9-0-36-3, D Tiripano 10-0-53-0, S Williams 10-0-66-0, R Burl 4-0-27-0, Sikander Raza 6-0-32-0

Ireland won by four wickets

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