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Porterfield is delighted as Irish seal rare clean sweep

 

Success story: William Porterfield receives the Series Trophy from Cricket Ireland Chairman, Ross McCollum
Success story: William Porterfield receives the Series Trophy from Cricket Ireland Chairman, Ross McCollum

By Ian Callender

Another impressive bowling performance set up not just a series win for Ireland but their first clean sweep since 2009.

Tim Murtagh, named player of the series, again led the way with three wickets, taking his tally to nine in the series, but he received excellent support from the rest of the attack with Mark Adair, Boyd Rankin and Shane Getkate each claiming two.

Paul Stirling, who passed 8,000 runs for Ireland, and James McCollum put on 60 for the first wicket and despite the quick loss of Andy Balbirnie, Ireland were always in control.

Skipper William Porterfield fell one short of his 50 but Kevin O'Brien, another player short of runs recently, grew in confidence the longer he stayed there and was 35 not out from 44 balls when Ireland won by six wickets with almost nine overs to spare.

Zimbabwe's fielding let them down at crucial stages, with Stirling missed on eight by Sean Williams running back at cover, McCollum in the next over, when he had scored only two, was dropped down the leg side by Brendan Taylor and the wicket-keeper also missed O'Brien on seven, again diving to his left.

But there was no doubt that Ireland were deserved winners of the series - their first clean sweep against a Full Member as Kenya were their opponents in Dublin in 2009 - and Porterfield was obviously delighted.

"We haven't been in that position too many times so it was nice that when we were on top we were able to carry it through and win the series 3-0," he said.

"We hit the game hard after getting those two early wickets and never let off. They played quite nicely through the middle overs, Williams marshalled it through for them, but the way Stirlo and Prince (James McCollum) played in our first 10 overs, it broke the back of the innings."

Williams was the visitors' stand-out batsman - he scored 153 runs in the series - and was the reason why Andy McBrine did not bowl a ball yesterday. The Zimbabwean was in the middle for all but the first nine and last two overs of the innings, but the pace bowlers did so well against him that he was restricted to just six boundaries in his 103 balls.

He was also the unluckiest wicket of the day with Adair dropping the return catch from Jarvis but the ball deflected onto the non-striker's stumps with Wiliiams stranded out of his ground.

Richmond Mutumbami and Jarvis, who hit the only six of the innings, tried to force the pace - each hit 28 from 33 balls - but at half-time, Ireland were more than happy to chase 190.

Tyrone Kane was a substitute fielder for McCollum for much of the Zimbabwe innings after the Waringstown batsman split the webbing on his hand when fielding a Williams drive, but as it was an external injury he was able to open the batting and after his early 'life' he was quickly into his stride with successive fours off Christopher Mpofu, the one change in either team from the previous game.

McCollum also pulled Williams for six over mid-wicket before bringing up his second consecutive half-century from 61 balls with his sixth four. He was out shortly afterwards, caught at backward point.

Stirling failed to get a seventh successive ODI half-century, caught behind flashing for 32, and Porterfield brought up the other two landmarks of the day, his 4,000th ODI run and this was his 50th ODI win as captain.

Porterfield will not be seen in Irish colours again until the Lord's Test match starts in 16 days' time but he admitted he was already thinking ahead to it "after a couple of beers tonight".

"It's all about that, we will be in England for good preparation, we haven't played a lot of red-ball cricket and the two games we did play (in the Inter-provincial Championship) we lost three and a half days to rain. But I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Before that, the majority of the squad have three Twenty20 internationals against Zimbabwe to play, the first back at Stormont on Wednesday, before they head north west again to Bready.

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