Clive Madande struck a four off the final ball of a rain-interrupted one-day international thriller in Harare on Wednesday to give Zimbabwe a three-wicket victory over Ireland.
The home side needed 13 runs from their last over under the DLS system to win and, boosted by a six from Ryan Burl, reduced the target to four runs with one Graham Hume delivery left.
By scooping the ball over deep midwicket, wicketkeeper Madande joined Burl (59) and Sikandar Raza (43) as stars of a brave fightback by Zimbabwe after Ireland posted 288-4 in 50 overs.
Zimbabwe scored 214-7 in reply as a three-match ODI series began, following a 2-1 win by the hosts in a three-match Twenty20 series.
Burl was run out seeking a second run off the second ball of the final over and Raza was caught earlier having miscued an attempted shot over long on.
Remarks about Madande
“I am ecstatic about Madande,” said Burl. “When batting with him, I kept telling him to be the guy that is going to be there until the end, and win it for your country.
“As to my good form, there is no secret,” he said of a knock that included two sixes and six fours. “I’m just concentrating on putting my head down and doing the right things.”
Harare-born former England Test batsman Gary Ballance contributed 23 to the Zimbabwe total before being caught at short third man attempting a pull shot off a back-of-a-length ball.
Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie struck 121 before retiring hurt.
Zimbabwe won the toss, opted to field and, initially, the decision paid off as openers Paul Stirling (13) and Stephen Doheny (3) were dismissed with 25 runs on the board.
The match then underwent a dramatic change as Balbirnie and Harry Tector (101 not out) put on 212 for the third wicket — 16 runs short of the Irish record.
Balbirnie faced 137 balls and hit three sixes and 13 fours before top-edging a Brad Evans beamer into the grill of his helmet, forcing him to quit.
The captain was able to walk off the field and an Irish official, who requested anonymity, said the centurion “was not seriously injured and would be okay”.
“We attach no blame to him (Evans). It was not a deliberate act — just a ball that was not ideally delivered. These things happen in cricket.”
Tector reached his century with two runs from a cover drive off the fourth ball of the final over. His total included one six and eight fours off 109 deliveries.
“Hey, what have we got to do to win a game,” said Tector. “It was a fantastic game. Sikandar and Ryan — the way they played took the game away from us.”
Fast medium pacer Victor Nyauchi was the most successful of the Zimbabwe bowlers, taking two wickets for 65 runs.
The ODI series continues on Saturday and concludes on Monday.
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