A day for Ireland to forget as Zimbabwe won their second World Cup Super League game with a comfortable 38 runs success in the first of their three-match series at Stormont.

There were few positives to take as the tourists lost just seven wickets piling up 266 and Ireland then lost their seven wickets for 41 runs, after William Porterfield, Paul Stirling and Harry Tector had set up the chase.

But, as has happened too often in the past, once the ‘Big Three’ go, the rest of the tail cannot take the side home. The glaring contrast between the teams was the last 11 overs of each innings. Zimbabwe hit 12 boundaries and scored 103 for three. Ireland’s tame response was to go from 186 for three to 228 all out, which included 33 consecutive singles!

The only boundary they hit was the last scoring shot, from No 11 Josh Little; he was caught next ball.

Ireland have two more matches to bounce back, tomorrow and next Monday, with 20 World Cup qualifying points available but in what was supposed to be the easiest series to improve their position in the table – Zimbabwe were ranked below them – there was nothing in yesterday’s performance to suggest they will do it.

It can be only hoped the pace bowlers have delivered their worst performance of the week. In 27 overs yesterday they conceded 192 runs; Ireland’s two front-line spinners, Andy McBrine and Simi Singh bowled their 20 overs for just 48 runs.

As expected Barry McCarthy was left out of the starting XI but after Andrew Balbirnie won the toss, there was only one breakthrough in the first 14 overs.

It was the introduction of spin in the 15th over which instantly brought the second wicket, Simi Singh having Brendan Taylor caught at deep mid-wicket and for the next 20 overs, Ireland controlled matters, as Zimbabwe moved from 85 for one to 134 for three, McBrine picking up the other wicket.

But it was as if the Zimbabwe batsmen were just waiting for the return of the pace bowlers to launch their final assault and they didn’t disappoint.

Although Josh Little bowled Sean Williams and George Dockrell – given three overs because Balbirnie couldn’t trust his pace bowlers - had Craig Ervine caught at cover in his second over, Sikander Raza was the star of the finale with 59 from 44 balls, hitting five fours and two sixes.

Porterfield and Stirling didn’t have it all their own way in the first powerplay – they went 25 balls without a run off the bat – but they had added 64 in 15 overs when Stirling, who never got into his stride, was leg before for 32.

Balbirnie followed shortly after but Porterfield, making the pitch look much easier than it was, completed his first 50 against Zimbabwe and his second in two matches, after his 63 against South Africa.

On 75 however, he mistimed a pull shot and Dion Myers held on at the third attempt. The collapse had started and as Balbirnie summed up afterwards: “It’s going to need a big performance from the whole squad to turn it around in the next match.”