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Match Report
Derek Scott

This was not a good match for the Irish. They lost the toss in a match of three very hot sunny days. The pitch was flat, true but slow. The outfield was very fast on this much improved, indeed now excellent, Old Hararians ground. Briant, the century maker, was dropped before he had scored, and again at 36 and 51 in the first session. When they were 119-6 on the second day, an Irish possible follow-on was saved by Patterson and Jackson. 104 behind on first innings, the Zimbabwe XI were at one point 32-3 but Ireland could not sustain the pressure. Then the home side set too severe a task in a three day match. They deprived themselves of a winning chance and the match was given up as a draw after only 2 overs of the last 20.

The Zimbabwe team consisted of young hopefuls captained by an elder statesman, de Grandhomme. Ireland retained Nulty instead of Smyth and left out Bailey, O'Reilly and N Nelson.

Briant and the schoolboy Whittal opened the batting at 10 AM. Whittal took a single off McCrum's second ball. The third, to Briant, flew to the right of Rea at second slip and was dropped. McCrum conceded 32 runs in his first five over spell, including 3 fours in his fifth over. Hoey came on for the 11th over when the score was 52 (scored in 10 overs!) At 54, of his fifth ball, Briant (36) gave Lewis a simple chance at mid-on which was put down. Briant went to 51 out of 80 in the 19th over. In the next over it was Nelson's turn to be unfortunate. Briant snicked him low to Warke, by now the only slip, but the catch was spilled. Then Briant attacked Hoey and hit him for 20 in 2 overs. 100 came up in the 23rd over. In the 25th over, at 105, Hoey had Whittal caught at silly mid-off for 30. Harrison replaced Nelson but by lunch (taken after 34 overs) the score was 137-1, Briant 94, Dekker 12.

In the next session 32 overs were bowled for 135 runs and 2 wickets - and one more dropped catch! McCrum, now bowling much better, and Harrison resumed the bowling. Harrison used two shortish mid-off's and one of them (Hoey) caught the left-handed Dekker for 20 with the score at 152. Briant had now reached 100 off only 105 deliveries. Four overs later McCrum had him LBW for 102 with the score on 156. He faced 113 balls, batted for 148 minutes with a six and 13 fours. The next pair, Evans and Martin, added 145 runs in 32 overs, straddling the tea interval. There was much switching of bowlers. Lewis, in a 5 over spell, before and after tea, conceded 34 runs. 200 came up in the 57th over. At 220 Evans (then 40) was dropped at cover by Dunlop off Hoey. By tea the pair had put on 106, Evans 68, Martin 39. Evans reached 50 in 78 minutes off 69 deliveries.

In the first six overs after tea 36 more were added and Martin went to his 50 off 86 deliveries. Then, at 301, Dunlop, in his 3rd over, caught and bowled Evans for 92 scored off 109 balls. He hit 3 sixes and 10 fours. Brain joined Martin went on to get 71 before Nelson, replacing Lewis, bowled him with the score at 329. Martin faced 107 deliveries and hit a six and 4 fours. The declaration came two overs later. 75 runs had come in 13 overs after tea and the overall rate was 4.24 per over. The could be no complaint about the rate but had the Zimbabwe XI got too many runs? Were they hoping for a follow-on, 186 being the target? Next day it looked likely when Ireland were 119-6. On the first evening Warke (9) and Dunlop (6) played out 13 overs from Davies, Denslow and offspinner Ranchod for 19 runs. Dunlop was admonished by umpire Robinson for time wasting and apologised to him next morning.

Warke (10) was out to the fifth ball he faced on the second day. He tried to glance Davies to the slip area but the ball rose to much and he was caught at the wicket. 25-1-10. At 35 Dunlop took a single. Rea came for a second but when sent back did not beat the throw. At 37 Lewis (0) was dropped by Whittal off Denslow but was out for 5 in the 24th over with the score on 54, caught at the wicket on the leg side off Denslow. Patterson joined Dunlop and took 37 off the next 8 overs by Davies and Denslow and de Grandhomme, who had come on with his off spinners with the total at 69. Dunlop hit him for a straight 6 in his third over. Three balls later a repeat failed to carry the outfield. 91-4-46. Patterson and Harrison slowly added 23 in 12 overs with Ranchod replacing Davies at 93. Then Harrison drove de Grandhomme to extra cover at 114 and Ranchod got through Nulty's forward defensive shot with the score on 119. Lunch was taken at this point, 46.2 overs having been bowled, and Ireland 119-6, Patterson 19 off 56 deliveries and 67 still required to save the follow-on.

As often happens the interval changed the game, although it should not have done so. At 130 Jackson (then on 3) was badly dropped by Ranchod (a poor fielder) at mid-on off de Grandhomme. This was the luck which the seventh wicket pair needed. They were cautious at first and Patterson protected Jackson very well. In one 9 over spell from de Grandhomme, Ranchod and Dekker, Jackson faced only 9 balls. Patterson struck out when he could and went to his 50 in 121 deliveries with the score at 168 in the 67th over. The follow-on was saved in the 74th over and 200 came up in the 77th. Then Davies came back and took two wickets with successive deliveries. Jackson was caught for 40 and Hoey LBW next ball. Jackson's 40 was invaluable. It came in 108 minutes off 98 deliveries. Patterson/Jackson partnerships had become a feature, at Usk in 1989, at Myreside in 1990 and now in Harare in 1991. A new ball saw Nelson bowled with the score at 231. All the Zimbabwe bowlers were parsimonious except Martin (28 in 7 overs) but he took 2 wickets. Davies had 3-34 in 20.3 overs.

Tea was taken between innings. At 3:11 PM Whittal and Briant started against McCrum and Nelson. Irish success came quickly. At 16 Warke, at second slip, held Briant off Nelson in the sixth over. 16-1-11. With the first ball of the ninth over McCrum had Whittal caught for 5 with the total on 26. Evans was then dropped at slip off McCrum but had still failed to score when Jackson caught him off McCrum with the total on 32. Dekker and Martin saw the day out and had 62 up after 28 overs, Dekker 36, Martin 8.

The third morning saw the Zimbabwe XI add 119 more in 30 overs up to a lunchtime declaration at 181-5. 44 came in the first hour which saw 16 overs bowled. Nelson bowled 2.5 overs before pulling rib cage muscles which put him out of the tour from that point on. Hoey bowled one ball to complete Nelson's last over in the complicated arrangement of a 96 over minimum day. It was the 34th over and the score was 78-3. Dekker went to 50 out of 95. Then Nulty dropped Martin in the outfield off Harrison with the score on 99. 100 came up in the 42nd over. In the second hour Ireland used three slow bowlers and Dunlop had Martin LBW in his first over after a stand of 103. 135-4-40. The second hour of 14 overs saw a further 75 put on on a very hot day with all the bowlers suffering. At 145, in Dunlop's second over, Jackson had one of his rare dropped catches when he missed Brain. At 163 Harrison had Dekker LBW for a good 90 scored off 161 balls. Brain was 26 and Hill 6 at the lunchtime declaration at 181-5.

The target was 286 in somewhere between 65 to 71 overs - a rate of roughly 4 per over. It turned out in fact to be 71 overs but was a large task with which Ireland never came to grips. In the second over Dunlop was held at gully from a square cut. Rea came in, hardly the man for a run chase. Warke did his best but in the 17th over the score was only 43 when Rea mishooked to be caught at mid-wicket. 43-2-14. Lewis was next and seven overs advanced the score by 24 to 67 when Warke was caught behind on the drive. He had made 35 with 6 fours. Lewis and Patterson were together at tea with the score at 86-3 of 31 overs, Lewis 22, Patterson 3. An hour and 20 overs remained to get exactly 200. This pair were the last chance but Zimbabwe XI were keeping defensive fields. At 102, in the 38th over, Lewis attempted a suicidal run to mid-off and failed. The chase was called off and only 32 runs came in the last 16 overs. After only 2 overs of the last 20 the match was given up as a draw.

The Zimbabwe Cricket Union give a farewell cocktail party at the ground and next day the party left for Bulawayo and the last week of the tour.

Derek Scott