Ireland (181/5) beat Zimbabwe (127/8) by 54 runs
NIALL O’BRIEN STARRED with the bat as Ireland’s cricketers thumped Zimbabwe on Thursday in their penultimate warm-up match ahead of the World T20.
O’Brien scored 62 off 49 balls while George Dockrell and Alex Cusack took three wickets apiece to give Ireland a 54-run win in Colombo.
And there was futher reason for the boys in green to smile as Group B opponents West Indies suffered a nine-wicket loss against Sri Lanka.
Ireland play Bangladesh on Monday in their final warm-up match before their opening group game against Australia two days later.
“It’s nice to get to get a few runs early in the tour,” a delighted O’Brien said after his 83-run partnership with Ed Joyce set Ireland on course for victory.
Thankfully in the past I’ve gone into tournaments in good form and hopefully that will continue this time around.
We got off to a decent start today. Stirlo and Porty [openers Paul Stirling and William Porterfield] took two or three good overs at the top so it let me and Joycey just kinda settle in.
We know we’ve got the firepower with Gary [Wilson] and Trent [Johnston] and Kev [O'Brien] towards the end so we just laid a good foundation.
Zimbabwe’s run chase was made more difficult when they lost opener Vusi Sibanda to a Boyd Rankin lbw with the first ball of their innings, but some excellent batting from Hamilton Masakadza left them in with a chance.
Masakadza fell to Dockrell for 44 runs, leaving the match poised at 74-3 before a complete collapse in the Zimbabwean middle order gave up their next four wickets for just three runs.
“It was good to be able to bounce back,” Dockrell said as he turned an 0-20 start into 3-28.
“Obviously [Masakadza] came very hard at me, himself and [Craig] Ervine but it was great to be able to bounce back, get those wickets, stem the flow and really put a stop to the momentum they had in their innings.
Once I got that first wicket, I was always in which a shout with the right handers, building pressure. Luckily enough I got a couple of wickets as well on top of that one. It was great to be able to come back like that.
It’s a great run out to have that, someone come at you. You don’t want to have too many easy warm-up games whereas I think that was perfect.