Paul Stirling hit nine boundaries and a six to score 60 © Getty Images (File photo)
By Devarchit Varma
Mar 17, 2014
Paul Stirling‘s half-century and his 80-run partnership with William Porterfield helped Ireland trump Zimbabwe by three wickets in the ICC World T20 2014 first round Group B match at Sylhet on Monday.
Chasing a daunting target of 164 to win, Ireland scored 164 for seven in 20 overs, but not without some last moment hiccups. Ireland, needing four runs off the final over, lost two wickets and scored the winning runs only on the last ball of the innings.
Ireland made a rollicking start to their chase as their openers Porterfield and Stirling added 50 runs in just 32 deliveries. Porterfield, after hitting a boundary off T Kamungozi in the second over of the chase, found some momentum when he cracked a six and a boundary off Prosper Utseya in the fourth over.
The Ireland captain carried the momentum in the next over when he hit Tendai Chatara for two boundaries as they added another 12 runs to their total. Ireland were 43 for no loss after the first five overs.
Stirling hadn’t found momentum by then, but in the sixth over of the innings, the bulky Ireland opener smashed four consecutive boundaries off Tinashe Panyangara.
Both the openers found it easy to score against the Zimbabwe bowlers, who could not produced even one opportunity to make a breakthrough. The boundaries kept coming easily for Ireland, as both Porterfield and Stirling scored easily on both sides of the wicket.
It was in the ninth over that Zimbabwe made a breakthrough, when Porterfield mistimed a stroke towards the midwicket region and was caught by Timycen Maruma off Sean Williams. Porterfield scored 31 off 23 balls, studded with three boundaries and a six. Porterfield and Stirling added 80 runs for the first wicket.
Stirling continued the good work for his side as in the same over he completed his half-century, with a six over the deep midwicket area. But the right-handed batsman perished soon, as he was caught by Sikandar Raza for 60 off 34 balls in the 11th over off Chatara.
Stirling smashed nine boundaries and a six to score 60.
The two quick wickets pegged back Ireland, and it was up to Andrew Poynter and Ed Joyce to take their side ahead. Poynter looked in aggressive mood as he cracked couple of boundaries to keep the momentum going.
However, Panyangara twin strikes in quick succession helped Zimbabwe bounce back again. On the fourth ball of the 15th over, Panyangara got rid of the dangerous Poynter, and on the last ball he got rid of Gary Wilson for a duck.
Earlier in the match, Brendan Taylor scored a fluent half-century to help Zimbabwe set a 164-run target. After being asked to bat first, Zimbabwe scored 163 for five in their allotted 20 overs. Taylor impressed with a fine knock of 59 off 46 balls, which included two sixes and four boundaries.
Zimbabwe 163 for 5 in 20 overs (Hamilton Masakadza 21, Brendan Taylor 59, Elton Chigumbura 22*; George Dockrell 2 for 18, Andy McBrine 2 for 26) lost to Ireland 164 for 7 in 20 overs (William Porterfield 31, Paul Sterling 60; Tendai Chatara 1 for 20, Tinashe Panyangara 4 for 37) by 3 wickets.
Man of the Match: Paul Stirling
ICC World T20 2014 schedule: Match time table with venue details
ICC World T20 2014 Points Table and Team Standings
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)