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Ireland blow the series after second loss in Harare

By Ian Callender

Ireland have only ranking points to play for tomorrow when they complete the one-day series against Zimbabwe after the Test nation claimed an unbeatable 2-0 lead with a five-wicket win in Harare.

And, once again, it was a familiar face who beat them with former Lisburn player Craig Ervine, top scorer with 60 in the first game on Friday, winning yesterday's with the boundary which brought up his second ODI century.

Ireland had posted 268 for seven but although three batsmen scored half centuries - Paul Stirling, Gary Wilson and Niall O'Brien - they could not go onto to the three-figure score which was the difference between victory and defeat.

Both teams scored 202 for four in the first 40 overs but Ireland managed just 18 off the next five overs "which is not what you want when you are looking to take the total past par," said coach John Bracewell. "And we only got a par score on a much better surface."

As in the first game, Zimbabwe raced away in their reply, and despite losing two early wickets, including Kevin O'Brien's 200th for Ireland, they brought up the 100 in the 18th over.

Crucially, Ervine was dropped on 64 by Niall O'Brien, back with the wicket-keeping gloves, and that proved Ireland's last chance.

Stirling and Ed Joyce can say they received harsh lbw decisions from the local umpire, but Bracewell had no complaints.

"I was brought up without DRS you take the rough with the smooth," added the coach.

Scores: Ireland 268-7 (P Stirling 72, G Wilson 65, N O'Brien 50; S Raza 3-49) Zimbabwe 270-5 (48.3 overs, C Ervine 101 not out, S Williams 43, S Raza 33, C Chibhabwe 30; K O'Brien 2-46). Zimbabwe won by 5 wickets.

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