Scintillating Stirling gives Ireland series lead

Ireland have taken a 2-1 lead in their T20 International series against Zimbabwe after Paul Stirling lit up today’s match at Bready with a sensational century. The opener hit 8 fours and 8 sixes in an unbeaten 115 made off just 75 balls as the hosts recorded a 40-run victory courtesy of a really strong showing with the bat.

Put in after Craig Ervine had won the toss, Stirling and skipper Andrew Balbirnie (32) added 77 for the second wicket after the early loss of Kevin O’Brien. Shane Getkate (19*) then accompanied the opener as the Belfast man went through the gears in the last quarter of the innings- Ireland adding 69 runs from the last 27 deliveries to post a total of 178-2.

The visitors were certainly up with the pace at the start of their reply, but were also losing wickets regularly. Skipper Ervine was beginning to look dangerous as he made 33 from just 18 balls (3 fours, 2 sixes) before he was bowled by Getkate- and you sensed that was the key moment in the second innings.

Ryan Burl’s 26 narrowed the gap late on but by that stage the run rate was through the roof.

Mark Adair (3-11) bowled superbly on his return from injury as Zimbabwe closed on 138 all out but Josh Little (2-18), Ben White (2-23) and Getkate (2-32) all played vital roles in the win as well.

William McClintock got a rousing reception from the good-sized crowd having been presented with his first full cap before the game. As it turned out, the Donemana batsman wasn’t needed on this occasion, but it looks highly likely he’ll be called upon again on Thursday.

Today though was all about Stirling and the man who today moved into 8th place in the all-time list of T20 run scorers has surely filled a few more seats for the rest of the week.


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