Photo Credit: Cricket Ireland
The men’s World Cup Super League series between Ireland and Zimbabwe gets underway at 10.30am (BST) at Stormont, Belfast tomorrow with both sides in the hunt for vital world cup qualification points towards the 2023 Cricket World Cup.
The two teams recently fought out a highly contested five-match T20I series (Ireland won 3-2), but the longer format now brings a new dimension to proceedings.
Ireland and Zimbabwe have played some memorable matches over the years, none more so than the famous tied match in the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean.
Most recently in the 50-over format, Zimbabwe toured Ireland in July 2019, which the home side won 3-0 – but the series featured some very competitive matches and some memorable performances (see scorecards).
The two sides come into the ODI series off the back of a hard-fought five-match T20I series (Ireland won 3-2).
Conditions in Belfast are expected to be overcast for the majority of the series but is expected to stay dry with maximum temperatures of 22 degrees and the promise of “glimpses of sunny spells”. The pitch is expected to play true, with a bit in it for the batters.
Ireland’s preparation for this series has been eventful with a full series against South Africa, two week-long training camps, and a T20I series against their current opponents.
On the ODI front, a 1-1 series draw against South Africa was a positive for the side, which featured a standout performance with the bat from skipper Andrew Balbirnie – securing his 6th ODI ton in game two, as well as a maiden hundred for Simi Singh in the final ODI of that series. The recently completed T20I series against the Chevrons saw a welcome return to form in Irish colours by Paul Stirling – topping the run-scoring charts and making his maiden T20I hundred at an average of 58.50. On the bowling front, Mark Adair also comes into this ODI series high in confidence taking 10 wickets in his last three games at an average of just 5.70. All-rounder Shane Getkate (recently added to the ODI squad in place of the injured Curtis Campher) also impressed with the ball taking eight wickets in the series at an average of 15.13 – and combined with his explosive batting style, he could certainly aid Ireland in those middle to late overs.
Ireland’s ODI squad is: Andrew Balbirnie (Captain), Mark Adair, George Dockrell, Shane Getkate, Graham Kennedy, Josh Little, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, William Porterfield, Neil Rock, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Craig Young.
In T20 cricket, Zimbabwe’s side featured several new names in their squad as part of their rebuilding effort after missing out on qualification to the T20 World Cup. Their performances in the recent series against Ireland were competitive, claiming two wins along the way. Despite being just a one-off game in the longer format, the visitor’s 5-run win over the Ireland Wolves on Monday demonstrated their adaptability and – perhaps more importantly – sent a warning shot across Ireland’s bow with Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza (who both didn’t play in the T20I series) finding form straight away. With the bat, skipper Craig Ervine claimed second-highest run-scorer in the T20I series with 160 runs, and with the ball Luke Jongwe impressed many with seven wickets at an average of 19.57. The unfortunate issue for Zimbabwe is the injury to Ryan Burl. Burl had taken six wickets at an average of 12.67 and looked dangerous with the bat, but may miss much of – if not all of – the ODI series.
Zimbabwe ODI squad is Craig Ervine (Captain), Ryan Burl, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Luke Jongwe, Wessly Madhervere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Wellington Masakadza, Blessing Mazarubani, Dion Myers, Richard Ngarava, Sikander Raza, Milton Shumba, Brendan Taylor, Donald Tiripano, Sean Williams, Kamunhukamwhe Tinashe.
Ireland – Paul Stirling
Stirling is in flying form with the bat, after his fantastic 61 off 36 balls in The Hundred Final, he kicked on in the most recent T20 series to be top run-scorer for either side – and in the process became the 6th highest run-scorer in T20 internationals ever. His aggressive style of batting, combined with impeccable hand speed and timing, can be breath-taking to watch when he gets going. He will undoubtedly play a vital role in the Irish side’s performance this series.
Zimbabwe – Craig Ervine
Craig Ervine was named cacptain of the Zimbabwean side on the eve of their Irish tour, and has looked in fantastic touch since he arrived. He was Zimbabwe’s highest run-scorer in the T20I series, scoring 160 runs at an average of 40. Going back two years, he also top-scored for Zimbabwe in the 2019 ODI series in Ireland scoring 156 runs at an average of 52, showing his comfort in batting in northern hemisphere conditions. His experience will play an invaluable role to the side and will undoubtedly gain even greater confidence knowing that Sean Williams and Brendan Taylor have returned to the top order for the longer format.
Key to the contest
While there are many aspects of this contest that may determine the outcome, it may well come down to Andrew Balbirnie’s words in his interview today, regarding the adjustment in format and how big a factor it will play after five T20 internationals:
“It’s something we aren’t used to, usually we go from ODI’s into T20’s and I suppose time will tell, It’s something we have been trying to work on in training, to keep their techniques intact and not go out still thinking you are still playing T20 cricket and use the extra time at the crease. I expect our guys to be good enough to adjust to this and I’m not expecting 350/400 run scores tomorrow off the back of the T20’s.”
“The guys have taken a lot of confidence from the three really good games of cricket played in the last series and hopefully we can take that confidence into the 50 over format.”
HOW TO WATCH, ATTEND, FOLLOW THE SERIES
Find out all the information you need to know about watching, attending or following the ODI series here.