Chigumbara`s hundred goes down drain, Ireland beat Zimbabwe
Jamtha (Nagpur): Fighting half-centuries from Andre Botha and Kevin O`Brien helped Ireland score a nail-biting four-wicket win over Zimbabwe in their warm-up tie ahead of the cricket World Cup here on Tuesday.
Chasing 245 to win, Ireland were slow but steady and achieved the target with three balls to spare at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium.
Zimbabwe`s decision to bat backfired as they were reduced to 12 for three inside 10 overs before captain Elton Chigumbara rescued his side with a 103-run knock off 81 balls, leading them to a competitive 244 for eight in 50 overs.
Former captain and wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu (45) was the only other batsman, who chipped in with runs to defy the Ireland attack and contribute to team reaching a decent total.
While replying, Ireland did not make a flying start but their strategy to keep the wickets in hand worked to their advantage.
Botha top-scored for Ireland with his 79-run knock and shared a 99-run stand for the fifth-wicket with O`Brien, who remained unbeaten at 62.
Paceman Shingirai Masakadza raised Zimbabwe`s hopes at one stage by dismissing Botha in the 47th over to leave Ireland needing another 19 runs from as many balls.
But O`Brien kept his cool and romped his side home.
Botha shone with the ball as well by finishing with impressive figures of two for 58.
Earlier, Zimbabwe started on a bad note, losing Brendan Taylor (1), Charles Coventary (5) and Sean Williams (3) cheaply with Ireland`s pace duo of Trent Johnston and Boyd Rankin causing havoc.
The run out of Craig Ervine (27) added to the woes of the African side even as Taibu held on to his wicket at the other end.
However, spinner Albert van der Merwe soon removed him as well, to leave Zimbabwe reeling at 100 for five.
Chigumbura then added 54 runs for the sixth wicket with Prosper Utseya (26) to consolidate the innings.
But he did not get much support from his lower-order and single-handedly drove Zimbabwe near the 250-run mark.
Zimbabwe will play their inaugural match of the World Cup against defending champions Australia on February 21, while Ireland will take on co-hosts Bangladesh on February 25.
Zimbabwe: 244 for 8 in 50 overs (Elton Chigumbara not out 103, tatenda Taibu 45; Trent Johnston 2/09, Andre Botha 2/58).
Ireland: 245 for 6 in 49.3 overs (Andre Botha 79, Kevin O`Brien 62; Ray Price 2/37, Shingirai Masakadza 2/39).