Zimbabwean batsmen stage a self-destruction act

KINGSTON: Ireland took a wicket from the final delivery against Zimbabwe to force a thrilling tie at the Cricket World Cup.

Zimbabwe was coasting at 203 for five in pursuit of a target of 222 to win but the last five wickets tumbled for 18 runs off the last 38 balls.

Stuart Matsikenyeri, needing one run off the last ball of the 50th over, missed the delivery from offspinner Andrew White and No. 11 Edward Rainsford was run out at the non-striker's end.

Matsikenyeri, had a life on the penultimate ball when Ireland skipper Trent Johnston put down a difficult chance at short third man, finished unbeaten on 73 from 76 balls.

Opener Jeremy Bray anchored the Irish innings with a brilliant unbeaten 115, batting through the innings in a total of 221 for nine in 50 overs. The left-hander hit 10 fours and two sixes off 137 balls.

Ireland, on its World Cup debut, celebrated the result with a lap of honor to salute the large Irish contingent that dominated the crowd that grew to more than 2,000.

Johnston, who took 1-32 off 10 overs, was happy with the result.

``I'm very proud of the guys,'' Johnston said. ``We fought back there in the last eight to ten overs and really gave ourselves a chance.

``It feels like there's 20,000 Irishmen in here today. It was like a 12th man out there. It really drove the guys on when the times were tough.''

The young Zimbabweans were more downbeat after the late slump denied them victory.

``We kept on losing wickets at the wrong time. That's why we ended up tying this game,'' captain Prosper Utseya said. ``The more we play, people will start to relax and when we get into situations like this we'll be able to pull through next time.''

Opener Vusi Sibanda hit a fluent 67 off 85 balls to lead the Zimbabwe pursuit. He shared a second-wicket stand of 66 with Justice Chibhabha before Ireland struck back in the mid-stages of the innings.

Sibanda was eventually dismissed hit wicket to White as he trod on his stumps trying to push into the off side.

When Elton Chigumbura followed at 133 for five after 30 overs, the Irish were sensing a win.

But Matsikenyeri and Brendan Taylor built a stand of 70 off 81 balls which should have won it for the Africans. A stroke of Irish luck removed Taylor for 24, the non-striker out of his crease when Kyle McCallan deflected a Matsikenyeri straight drive onto the stumps.

Panic set in after that as Ireland sensed a way back and wickets tumbled.

The penultimate over, from Kevin O'Brien, was a double-wicket maiden and Zimbabwe needed nine off the last six balls with one wicket standing.

Matsikenyeri took five off the first three balls and last man Rainsford gave him back the strike with a single.

Three were needed off two balls and Matsikenyeri sliced to short third man where Johnston, with a despairing dive just failed to clutch a catch as the batsmen crossed for two.

But Matsikenyeri could not complete the job as his swing at the final ball missed and the wicket-keeper quickly relayed the ball to the bowler to effect a run out.-- AP

SCOREBOARD

Ireland: W. Porterfield c Sibanda b Mpofu 0, J. Bray (not out) 115, E. Morgan c Chigumbura b Brent 21, N. O'Brien c Taylor b Chigumbura 1, A. Botha b Chigumbura 1, K. O'Brien c Taylor b Rainsford 10, A. White lbw b Brent 28, D. Johnston (run out) 20, W. McCallan st. Taylor b Williams 0, D. Langford-Smith c Taylor b Mpofu 15, Extras (b-1, lb-1, w-5, nb-3) 10, Total (for nine wkts. in 50 overs) 221.

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-43, 3- 44, 4-64, 5-89, 6-145, 7-182, 8- 182, 9-221.

Zimbabwe bowling: Mpofu 10-3-58-2, Rainsford 7-0-44-1, Chigumbura 6-2-21-2, Brent 10-1-40-2, Utseya 10-0-29-0, Williams 6-1-21-1, Matsikenyeri 1-0-6-0.

Zimbabwe: T. Duffin c N. O'Brien b Rankin 12, V. Sibanda hit wkt. b White 67, C. Chibhabha c Langford-Smith b Johnston 12, S. Williams c Rankin b McCallan 14, S. Matsikenyeri (not out) 73, E. Chigumbura c Bray b McCallan 4, B. Taylor (run out) 24, G. Brent lbw b Botha 3, P. Utseya c Morgan b K. O'Brien 1, C. Mpofu (run out) 0, E. Rainsford (run out) 1, Extras (lb-1, w-7, nb-2) 10, Total (in 50 overs) 221.

Fall of wickets: 1-26, 2-92, 3- 107, 4-128, 5-133, 6-203, 7-212, 8-213, 9-213.

Ireland bowling: Langford- Smith 9-0-34-0, Rankin 7-1-43-1, Botha 10-2-32-1, Johnston 10-2- 32-1, McCallan 9-1-56-2, White 3-1-15-1, K. O'Brien 2-1-8-1.

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