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We must learn from past and turn screw, warns Andrew


Ton up: Andrew Balbirnie en route to his cool century
Ton up: Andrew Balbirnie en route to his cool century

By Ian Callender

Ireland's century-maker Andrew Balbirnie hopes that the team will have learnt from their last series against Afghanistan and follow-up with victory in the second match against Zimbabwe on Thursday.

Balbirnie scored 101 as Ireland chased down Zimbabwe's 254 with nine balls to spare and took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. But as the in-form batsman was keen to point out, Ireland were in exactly the same situation after the first game in the two-match series against Afghanistan in May.

"We were also one up in that series but didn't put in another performance. So we must make sure we have learnt from that," said Balbirnie.

"We haven't played Zimbabwe a lot - I think it's the first time at home since 2003 - so it was important to start the series with a win and we did that."

It was just as well that Ireland got over the line yesterday because Balbirnie admitted he would have held himself responsible if they hadn't, after running himself out immediately after scoring his seventh century for his country.

"I thought it went past the fielder, but he had actually fumbled it. I still thought there was a bit of a gap but obviously there wasn't and when I saw the ball was in his hand, it was too late," Balbirnie said.

"It was a lapse. I felt so comfortable and I was going to win the game for us. If we hadn't got over the line I would have been inconsolable."

But, like everyone else in the Irish camp, he was impressed at how Shane Getkate - on his ODI debut - and Mark Adair - in only his seventh game - finished off the match in style.

"Mark hits the ball as clean as anyone and from ball one. He was also exceptional with the ball, getting those two early wickets, and he gives us that X-factor in the squad and it's great to see him do well and Shane in his first match also," said Balbirnie.

Balbirnie and Stirling had set up the run chase with a partnership of 105 and he admits that he enjoys batting with the big-hitting Middlesex opener.

"We bat well together, Paul strikes the ball so cleanly and early in my innings I was just rotating the strike. It was a shame he got out so early because we lost momentum then but the fight shown at the end was good," he said.

"It took me a while to settle in the team but now I feel very established and feel a responsibility every time I bat to get runs in whatever format. As long as I'm contributing to wins, then I'm happy."

For Getkate, his ODI debut could hardly have gone much better, finishing with 2-33 from seven overs and then scoring 16 not out from 13 balls.

"It was an enjoyable day," he said afterwards. "I was a bit nervous in the first over but after that you settle down and it's just another game. It's great to get the win so that's two debuts, two wins (he also won on his first T20 appearance for Ireland) and that's the most important thing.

"You don't want the winning runs to go past the keeper (a big edge), but you take that and Mark came in and did well.

"I only got seven overs bowling because Stirlo came on as there were two left-handers. Purdy (Captain William Porterfield) wanted me to stay loose but everyone bowled well and I wasn't needed for my last three overs.

"Now we have to do it again and put them under pressure again on Thursday. "

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