HARARE – A half-century from Niall O’Brien and three wickets each from spinner George Dockrell and medium-pacer Alex Cusack helped Ireland beat Zimbabwe by 54 runs in a warm-up match in Colombo.
Ireland were sent in to bat and made a quick start before losing their openers in successive overs.
Niall O’Brien and Ed Joyce steadied the innings with an 83-run stand, and Niall O’Brien carried on to score 62 off 49 balls.
Kevin O’Brien provided the finishing touches by smacking 30 off 14 balls to lead Ireland to 181.
Boyd Rankin gave the defence the perfect start by trapping Vusi Sibanda lbw first ball, before Hamilton Masakadza’s aggressive 44 off 27 balls powered Zimbabwe to 74 for 2 in the ninth over.
Dockrell made the breakthrough by dismissing Masakadza and then got rid of Stuart Matsikenyeri the next ball. Cusack’s double strike in the 10th over reduced Zimbabwe to 75 for 6 and they did not recover.
Zimbabwe slipped to 83 for 8 before the ninth-wicket partnership led them to 127.
Zimbabwean Sports minister David Coltart, in a Facebook page post, attributed the team’s warm-up defeat to inadequate preparation.
He posted: “Ireland 181 for 5. Zim 127 for 8. But Ireland have been there sometime — they had a warm up against Sri Lanka A on the 10th whereas our guys only arrived yesterday.
Also Ireland have had several T20 matches recently against Bangladesh etc. So not great but it was just a warm-up.”
Coltart’s post attracted comments from two former Zimbabwean internationals, Bryan Strang and Mpumelelo Mbangwa.
“Ya, no problem the Irish (are) a good side and some introspection and refocus never a bad thing. Bless bless,” threaded retired accurate seam bowler Strang.
SuperSport presenter and commentator Mbangwa remarked: “Hmmm! Not good but warm ups don’t really count. Onward and upward!!” — Cricinfo/Sports Writer