Ireland celebrated St Patrick’s Day with a dramatic three-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in their World T20 opener in Sylhet.
Ireland, who won the toss and elected to field at the Sylhet Stadium, could only restrict Zimbabwe to 163-5.
Paul Stirling scored 60 in their reply and Ireland needed just eight off the final two overs. However, they almost made a mess of it before scampering a bye off the final ball.
Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor powered his side’s innings with 59 from 46 balls which featured six boundaries and two sixes.
The Zimmies looked strong at 56/1 after six overs, but spinners George Dockrell and Andy McBrine curbed the run rate on a slow pitch, picking up two wickets apiece.
|Zimbabwe: 163 for 5 (20 overs)|
|H Masakadza||c Porterfield||b McBrine||21||24||17|
|Raza||c Sorensen||b Cusack||10||7||8|
|Taylor||c Joyce||b Dockrell||59||57||46|
|Williams||st Wilson||b McBrine||16||8||9|
|Sibanda||c Sorensen||b Dockrell||16||20||18|
|Extras||0nb 1w 1b 4lb||6|
However, Elton Chigumbura hit two sixes off the final over to boost the Zimbabwe total.
Stirling and William Porterfield put on 80 for the opening wicket to give Ireland a great start before the captain was dismissed for 31 in the ninth over.
Stirling hit nine fours and a six in his 34-ball knock before Sikandar Raza took a steepling catch off Tendai Chatara in the 11th over.
Ireland's total was 100 at that point and cameos from Andrew Poynter (23) and Kevin O'Brien (17) took them to the brink with just four required off the final over.
However, Ed Joyce (21) was bowled by Tinashe Panyangara and the scores were tied going into the final ball. Alex Cusack failed to make contact but Zimbabwe keeper Taylor failed to hit the stumps with his throw and Stuart Thompson made his ground.
|Ireland: 164 for 7 (20 overs)|
|Porterfield||c Maruma||b Williams||31||23|
|Stirling||c Raza||b Chatara||60||34|
|Poynter||c Chigumbura||b Panyangara||23||15|
|Wilson||c H Masakadza||b Panyangara||0||2|
|K O'Brien||c Williams||b Panyangara||17||10|
|Sorensen||run out (Williams)||0||1|
|Extras||0nb 3w 1b 4lb||8|
Porterfield's side are now in prime position to reach the Super 10 phase of the tournament from Group B.
Wins against the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday and the Netherlands on Friday will see them join South Africa, Sri Lanka, England and New Zealand in Group 1.
Despite only being an Associate Nation, Ireland reached the Super Eights in 2009, while full member Zimbabwe have managed just one win in their World T20 history.
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