Ireland World Cup 2007
Ireland players celebrate after taking the final wicket (AFP Photo)

In the build-up to the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, CricketCountry brings to you the most memorable moments and matches from the tournament over the years – right from its first edition, way back in 1975. With 35 days to go, in our latest World Cup Countdown, we recall Ireland‘s stunning WC debut in March 2007

In their World Cup debut, Ireland faced Zimbabwe were asked to bat first by opposition captain Prosper Utseya on a grassy pitch. Christopher Mpofu backed the decision by removing William Porterfield’s in the first over. Ireland struggled, crawling to 6 from 4 overs before Jeremy Bray cut Mpofu for four, and two balls later slashed him over point for six. Eoin Morgan was dropped by Elton Chigumbura off Mpofu, and with four quick boundaries he saw Ireland reach 42 after 8 overs.

Utseya changed both bowlers, and Gary Brent found Morgan’s edge; this time Chigumbura did not grass the chance. Four balls later Chigumbura himself had Niall O’Brien caught-behind. Though Bray opened up again with a four and a six, Andre Botha left one from Chigumbura; the ball moved off the pitch and hit off-stump. Shortly afterwards Rainsford came back to have Kevin O’Brien caught-behind. The score read 89 for 5 after 22 overs.

Andrew White provided Bray steadied the ship. Bray hit Chigumbura to third man to bring up his fifty. Though Utseya bowled a tight spell, by the time White fell, the pair had added a crucial 56.

A rain interruption followed and on resumption, the batsmen exploded against Mpofu, but Trent Johnston was run out just as things looked good for Ireland. The tail hung around Bray, who reached his hundred with a boundary past third man: it was the first World Cup hundred by an Ireland batsman.

Ireland eventually finished with a competent 221/9.

Terry Duffin started off in style, punishing Dave Langford-Smith and Boyd Rankin for a boundary each.

Duffin was dropped twice— by Niall O’Brien and Morgan before being dismissed. Sibanda took up the challenge with three fours off Rankin and reached his fifty in 61 balls with 8 fours.

Then Chamu Chibhabha holed out to Langford-Smith, Sean Williams tried to clear mid-on off Kyle McCallan, only to find the 6’7” Rankin.
Matsikenyeri announced himself with 2 fours and a six, and with 94 to score off 22 overs with 7 wickets in hand, it seemed Zimbabwe would cruise to victory.

Then Sibanda was given out hit wicket for an 84-ball 67. Chigumbura was caught brilliantly by a diving Bray at mid-on. However, with 24 off 42 needed for a win, Zimbabwe were still in the driving seat.

And then they panicked.

Taylor gave the strike to Matsikenyeri, who had earlier reached his fifty off fifty balls. He hit McCallan past the bowler for four, and went for an encore; McCallan got his fingers down in time, and Taylor was found outside the crease. Not to be bogged down, Matsikenyeri thumped the last ball past fine-leg for four more.

15 from 6 overs became, 9 from 2 overs before a wicket-maiden from Kevin O’Brien wicket-maiden pushed the contest to final over.

With nine needed from six, Matsikenyeri struck four off the first two deliveries from White. The equation was still in favour of Zimbabwe and they needed a single off the final delivery.
In a dramatic turn of events, Ed Rainsford was run out as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 221 in 50 overs. The teams played out the third tie in the history of World Cup.

Brief Scores: Ireland 221 for 9 in 50 overs (Jeremy Bray 115*) tied with Zimbabwe 221 in 50 overs (Vusimuzi Sibanda 67, Stuart Matsikenyeri 73*)