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Match Report
Ian Callender

There are very few one-day internationals which are not covered by television these days but Ireland are already regretting that their series in Zimbabwe is one of them. When Niall O'Brien took off the bails on the penultimate ball of the first match, the whole Irish team were convinced that Eddie Rainsford was run out and Zimbabwe still needed two runs to win with the No 11 coming to the wicket.

But, to their horror, umpire Amish Saheba ruled it "not out', the scores were tied and Rainsford duly hit the last ball of the match for six to give Zimbabwe a vital lead in

the three-match series which continues tomorrow. "You could almost see with our camera from the behind the bowler's arm that he was out but it's the umpire's decision, you have to abide by it. There are no television cameras here so you have to get on with it," said National Coach Phil Simmons.

Maybe Andrew White should have been given the last over once again. Three years ago, in the World Cup opener against Zimbabwe, he kept the Africans down to eight to earn that famous tie when Rainsford was the non-striker. He was run out off the last ball. This time Kevin O'Brien had just six to defend. Unfortunately, the Railway Union all-rounder, on the day he became the first Irishman to play 50 ODIs for his country, had conceded 28 off his previous three overs and a "dot' from the last proved a ball too far.

Still, after a below par batting performance when they slumped to 22 for four, before recovering to post 200, the bowlers almost pulled off a stunning victory. Led by George Dockrell who, after 66 wicketless overs, struck twice in two balls and never looked back, he received good support from Albert van der Merwe with a second spell of five overs for 17 runs which hauled Ireland back into the match.

Already without Andre Botha, whose stitched hand had not healed sufficiently for him to make the starting line-up, Ireland then lost John Mooney to a heel problem after three economical overs but despite Trent Johnston bowling "at the death', Zimbabwe still managed to score 36 runs from the last four overs. The Irish batting was forced to rely on the in-form duo of Gary Wilson and Andrew White after the top four were back in the pavilion inside 11 overs.

Captain William Porterfield gave Rainsford an early return catch and next ball Niall O'Brien edged straight to first slip for his first golden duck since the World Cup game against Australia. It was also only the fourth time he has failed to score in 110 innings for Ireland. Rainsford's opening partner, Chris Mpofu, who, coach Alan Butcher said bowled "just as well" got the wicket of Kevin O'Brien and next over Paul Stirling, already dropped at long leg when he had made only five, got the top edge to an attempted pull and was caught behind.

But, enter Wilson to join Andrew White and they put on 115 for the fifth wicket with Wilson passing 60 for the third time in four ODIs. Both had to consolidate at first and while Wilson was the more free-scoring - his seven fours were half of the innings' total - White was happy to pick up the singles and rotate the strike.

Both departed in the space of six overs and when John Mooney was run out after a run-a-ball 22, Ireland were 166 for seven with nine overs still to bat. It proved too much to see the overs out with Trent Johnston left stranded on 23 not out. The innings ended with 15 balls unused and it was to cost them the match.