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Ireland pipped by Zimbabwe in agonising fashion

Zimbabwe tailender Blessing Muzarabani inflicted an agonising one-wicket defeat on Ireland by claiming two decisive runs off the final ball in a dramatic opening T20 international in Harare.

Having posted 147 for eight from their 20 overs, the tourists led by a single run ahead of the ultimate delivery of a nail-biting contest.

Muzarabani, who had just come to the crease following Mark Adair’s stunning catch to dismiss Richard Ngarava, delivered in fortuitous fashion as his unintentional inside edge off the bowling of Barry McCarthy deceived wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker to run to fine leg.

Ireland were on the cusp of a famous victory after defying the heroics of Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza to take an engrossing match to the wire.

All-rounder Raza hit 65 off 42 balls, having earlier taken three wickets for 28, including removing Ireland opener Andy Balbirnie for 32.

Craig Young, Josh Little, Adair, who had man of the match Raza caught by skipper Paul Stirling in the penultimate over, and McCarthy claimed two wickets apiece for the away team on a remarkable evening.

Yet Ireland go into Saturday’s second T20 at the same venue behind in the series following the heartbreaking finish, which moved Zimbabwe on to a victorious 148 for nine. RTE

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