IRELAND got there in the end. More than eight hours but only 56 overs after the scheduled start, they levelled the three-match World Cup Super League series with a seven wickets (DLS) victory over Zimbabwe.

It was a frustrating stop-start day at Stormont for players, officials and spectators alike but, finally, between the showers, Ireland asserted their superiority and their world ranking to claim 10 more points in the World Cup qualifying table.

It actually takes them up to the dizzy heights of fourth place but they have played more matches than all but one of the nine teams below them and they realistically expect to be in the qualifying tournament next year ahead of the finals in India in 2023.

William Porterfield was the first of the Ireland wickets to fall yesterday in their pursuit of 126 in 35 overs — it was reduced before he was out to 118 in 32 after the latest shower — but he was still named man of the series for his 158 runs and although Ireland’s next WCSL series is not until January, in the West Indies, you can expect to see the 37-year-old opening the batting again with Paul Stirling.

Stirling remains Ireland’s No 1 batsman, literally and figuratively — that’s the number on the back of his shirt — but he never really fired in this series, and despite reaching 30 in the first two games and 40 in this one, he couldn’t complete his 27th half-century.

The former Middlesex professional mistimed a pull to wide-on yesterday after scoring 43 from 40 balls and he was followed back to the pavilion by captain Andrew Balbirnie whose innings ended with a tame push to extra cover.

By that stage, however, Ireland’s target was down to just five and Harry Tector, in too late to have a chance of a third consecutive 50 in the series, took just two balls to complete the victory.

The captain, however, was proud of the way the side bounced back from their first game defeat, and had a special mention for his opening batmen.

“They saw off the new ball in all three games and that’s something we have missed in the last 18 months,” said Balbirnie.

“William has come back into the team and looked a million dollars and gave us that solidity with Paul up top. After the huge disappointment of losing the first game to come back in the second with the bat and then produce an all-round display today was very satisfying.

“It wasn’t the easiest pitch to bat on and I had to take one on the head and another on the knee (in consecutive balls) but we have had to scrap for every point. We got that message across to the guys after the first game and I’m proud to end the season like that.”

Balbirnie had won the toss when play eventually started two and a quarter hours late — with the match reduced to 42 overs — but Ireland immediately took a stranglehold, despite having to make a late change to their starting line-up.

Craig Young pulled up in the warm-up with a niggle, missing his first ODI since the West Indies tour at the start of last year, and Shane Getkate came in for his fourth ODI, two years after playing his first three, also against Zimbabwe.

But Mark Adair set the tone with a maiden first up and conceded just 10 runs in his next four overs while at the other end, Josh Little had the new ball swinging about and was rewarded with two wickets, including Brendan Taylor who lasted only 12 balls in his 284th and final international for Zimbabwe. He finished 62 runs short of 10,000 runs.

Simi Singh was hit for 11 in his first over and 23 in his first three, which has been unheard in his recent matches, but a switch of ends and he was back to his normal parsimonius self and in tandem with Andy McBrine, the wickets started falling.

McBrine took three of them, including the big one of Zimbabwe skipper Craig Ervine who again dominated his side’s innings — scoring almost half of his side’s runs from the bat. Although as the North West Warriors captain admitted afterwards, he didn’t actually hear the nick that Ervine gave to wicket-keeper Lorcan Tucker and neither did umpire Alan Neill, in his final game as an international umpire.

However, Balbirnie called for the review, one of five successful ones on the day, and from 99 for five, Zimbabwe were bowled out for 131 with four overs unused.