O'Brien stars as Ireland crush Zimbabwe
Niall O'Brien top scored with 62 as Ireland's cricketers completed a comprehensive 54 runs win against Zimbabwe in their first offical ICC World Twenty20 warm -up game in Colombo today.
Having been put in by Zimbabwe, Ireland captain William Porterfield set the tone for an impressive batting display striking four consecutive boundaries off Kyle Jarvis as 17 came from the first over of the innings.
Although Paul Stirling (13) and Porterfield (19) both fell in quick succession, their quick start allowed Ed Joyce and Niall O'Brien to consoldiate before taking the attack to the beleaguered Zimbabweans once again.
O'Brien top scored with 62 from 48 balls (4 fours, 2 sixes), sharing a third wicket stand of 83 in 57 balls with Joyce (29).
Although Gary Wilson (2) fell cheaply, Kevin O'Brien provided the late acceleration as he struck an unbeaten 30 from just 15 deliveries, as Ireland added 57 from the final five overs to finish on an above par 181 for 5.
Christopher Mpofu (3-39) was the most successful of the Zimbabwean attack.
Boyd Rankin got the Irish defence of their total off to the perfect start when he trapped the dangerous Visu Sibanda first ball, and when Trent Johnston also breached the defences of Zimbabwean skipper Brendan Taylor shortly after, Ireland were very much in the ascendancy.
Hamilton Mazakadza and Craig Ervine launched a counter-attack and at 74 for 2 the game was very much in the balance. However, the turning point came when substitute fielder Stuart Thompson held on to a fine boundary catch to dismiss Mazakadza, who had scored 44 from 27 balls (5 fours, 2 sixes).
Mazakadza's dismissal sparked an amazing collapse, as five wickets fell for just 3 runs in the space of 10 balls, and at 77 for 7, the result was never in doubt.
Alex Cusack varied his pace well to claim three for six, while George Dockrell recovered from a slow start to finish with three for 28.
An unbroken ninth wicket stand of 44 between Prosper Utseya (23*) and Ray Price (17*) gave the Zimbabwe innings some respectability as they finished on 127 for 8.
Ireland are next in action when they take on Bangladesh in their second warm-up game on Monday (5am UK), before Group games against Australia on Wednesday 19th (11am UK/Ireland), and West Indies on Monday 24th (3pm UK/Ireland)