Ireland paid a costly price for silly errors, admits Wilson after Zimbabwe tie series
What a difference two days make. Zimbabwe stormed back from a nine-wicket defeat to tie the Twenty20 international series against Ireland with an eight-wicket success at Bready yesterday.
There was not quite the drama of the World Cup final - or even the men's final at Wimbledon - as an unbroken third-wicket stand of 111 between man of the series Craig Ervine and Sean Williams eased Zimbabwe to victory with 20 balls to spare.
Although former Lisburn professional Ervine hit the winning boundary, it was fitting that Williams, Zimbabwe's player of the tour, was in the middle at the end. He certainly did not deserve to be a loser in every game.
Ireland had scored 171-9 in their 20 overs but they needed 79 from the last six overs to reach what skipper Gary Wilson called a par score. Zimbabwe, despite losing their captain in the second over, proved it wasn't even that as Ireland's young attack was exposed. But, then, T20 is definitely not a bowlers' game.
It could have been so different but for Ireland carelessly giving away a no-ball at the start of the third over, Mark Adair's first. He found the edge of Ervine's bat and Wilson took the catch. But their joy quickly turned to anger as square leg umpire Alan Neill saw that Ireland had three fielders outside the 30-yard circle, one more than is allowed in the first six overs.
"We can't be doing that at this level," admitted Wilson afterwards. "If guys are unsure where they should be they should be calling out, but I suppose it has to come down to myself and the bowler. It's disappointing."
It got even worse for Ireland, because Ervine hit the next two balls to the boundary and in the same over skied one to mid-on but Kevin O'Brien horribly misjudged the catch.
It was the third blow of the day for Ireland, who lost Andrew Balbirnie after the toss to a back injury, and he was replaced by George Dockrell; Boyd Rankin remained out with a groin strain and John Little came in for Tyrone Kane.
Balbirnie's absence became even more stark when Paul Stirling, who had hit a whirlwind 83 in the first match, was bowled by the first ball. Wilson came in and although he hit three fours in his first 13 balls, he could manage only 14 consecutive singles in mid-innings.
The captain, after being dropped on 32, finished top scorer with a run-a-ball 47 but five batsmen scored faster, none quicker than Adair who hit his second over the pavilion and his fifth straight and flat to the same area. He finished with four sixes and two fours in his 15-ball 38 and either side of him Greg Thompson, Shane Getkate and Gareth Delany showed their power-hitting.