A whirlwind unbeaten 30 by Ryan Burl lifted Zimbabwe to a 2-1 Twenty20 series victory over Ireland in Harare on Sunday.
Ireland were put in to bat and made 141-9 with Harry Tector top scoring on 47 as they sought to buck a trend in this series of the side fielding first winning.
Captain Craig Ervine scored 54 to lift Zimbabwe to 116-5 with three overs remaining and Burl effectively finished the match off, hammering two sixes and three fours off 11 deliveries.
Luke Jongwe hit the last ball of the penultimate over for four to take Zimbabwe to 144-6, and a four-wicket triumph.
It was a dramatic end to a series that began with a five-wicket win for Zimbabwe on Thursday, followed by a six-wicket victory for the tourists two days later.
“It’s a great place to be at the moment, winning a series against Ireland with some of your lesser experienced players. It’s very exciting for the future,” said Ervine.
“The guys are confident ahead of the one-day international series (starting on Wednesday. We might get Sikandar Raza and Gary Ballance back.”
Prolific run getter Raza has been playing franchise cricket in Bangladesh while former England batter Ballance missed the last two T20 internationals due to mild concussion.
“It’s exciting, it’s always good to have that winning momentum and we will try hard to keep that up.”
Ireland skipper Andy Balbirnie said: “We came here to win the series, so it’s disappointing that we haven’t.”
After the cheap loss of opener Tadiwanashe Marumani (5), Ervine took charge with a knock that included six fours.
His innings ended when he was caught by Curtis Campher attempting a cover drive off a short-pitched ball from Mark Adair.
Spinner Ben White (2-26) and fast medium pacer Barry McCarthy (2-32) were the most successful Irish bowlers.
Batting at No. 4, Tector rescued the tourists, who had slumped to 19-3 having faced just 23 deliveries.
He put on 70 runs before being separated from Campher, the second highest Irish scorer with 27.
Tector departed next, adding a further six runs before his middle stump was uprooted by off-spinner Wesley Madhevere, the most successful Zimbabwe bowler with two wickets for eight runs.
Mark Adair was the only lower-order Irish batsman to reach double figures with his 14 off 10 balls contributing to a 31-run seventh-wicket stand.
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