St Patrick's Day proves good omen for Irish

HARARE - Seven years ago today, the world of cricket was rocked to its foundation when Ireland recorded their first major win in international cricket when they beat Pakistan in the 2007 addition of the ICC World Cup in the West Indies.

Seven years to the day, the Irish were at it again as they opened their bid to join the final 10 with a nail-biting win over Zimbabwe in a crucial qualifying match of the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 in Slyhet, Bangladesh, yesterday.

This win was not nearly as traumatic as the win over Pakistan, but a win is a win, and Ireland will argue their case for promotion on the international circuit.

TEAM TALK: Ireland players huddle before the start of yesterday’s match against Zimbabwe.

In truth, this was a scrappy but very enjoyable game of cricket to watch, as both teams gave each other opportunities to steal defeat from the jaws of victory.

In the end, it was Ireland who snuck over the line as Brendan Taylor’s under arm throw missed the stumps off the final ball of the match.

When Pom Mbangwa quite rightly asked Taylor why he did not stand up to the stumps in Tinashe Panyangara’s final over, even I, a totally blind person, could hear the energy been sucked from Taylor as he said: “Panyangara is a very good death bowler, and I backed myself to hit the stumps, but, it was not to be.”

It certainly appears as if Zimbabwe’s inability to rotate the strike in the middle overs continues to be their downfall, as the innings practically came to a grinding halt from overs 11 to 17 before Elton Chigumbura bludgeoned Zimbabwe to a decent total.

FOCUSED: Zimbabwe cricket team captain Brendan Taylor bats against Ireland yesterday.

Brendan Taylor is back at number three, which seems to be a position that works for him in this format of the game, while Vusi Sibanda struggled to get momentum into his innings in the middle order.

Sibanda unquestionably prefers the ball coming onto the bat, and although he is most definitely the country’s best batsman, he does struggle to rotate the strike, and play the ball with soft hands which would allow him to place the ball into gaps, and rotate the strike.

Special mention must go to Tendai Chatara who was nothing short of outstanding with figures of 1/20 from his four overs, which also included two maidens.

Panyangara had everybody holding their heads in disappointment, and jumping up and down at the same time with bizarre figures of 4/38 from his four overs.

Some people may possibly feel that Brendan Taylor did not have the best days in the field as captain, two examples that come to mind was when he replaced Panyangara with Sean Williams when Panyangara had just produced a double wicket maiden, but Williams did not exactly let his skipper down as he only went for four runs.

You could also question the fact that Taylor did not stand up to Panyangara, but, you also have to compliment the skipper for bringing in a slip when Pointer was dismissed, which subsequently led to Panyangara’s second wicket in the over as he found the edge of Gary Wilson’s bat, which in turn presented Hamilton Masakadza with a brilliant catch at slip.

So if one was to summarise the match in a nutshell, you could probably say that this is the sort of match you would expect between two lowly ranked nations.

As disappointing as the outcome of this match was, one has to be very mindful of the fact that this is T20 cricket after all, and Zimbabwe have also upset the apple cart in the past when they pulled off surprise wins against higher ranked countries.

This was a bitter pill to swallow, and Zimbabwe now have to rely on net run rates, as well as convincing wins over the Netherlands and the UAE in order to progress to the next round.

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