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Unbeaten Andy Balbirnie stars as Ireland win Zimbabwe ODI series

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Andy Balbirnie struck an unbeaten 82 as Ireland beat Zimbabwe by seven wickets in Harare on Sunday to seal a 2-0 ODI series victory.

Needing 201 runs to win a match reduced to 40 overs a side because of rain, the tourists lost captain Paul Stirling with just 12 on the scoreboard.

But Balbirnie shook off recent indifferent form to create partnerships of 70 with Curtis Campher (40) and 63 with Harry Tector (33) to take the match away from the hosts.

Balbirnie patiently built his innings, compiling a total including a six and four fours off 102 balls.

“I think if you bide your time, you will get some luck. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it does not,” said the right-hand batter.

“It was good to be out there at the end on a challenging wicket. I knew if I set myself up for the back end, I would do well.”

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The match-winning runs, a four from wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker, came with 13 balls to spare as Ireland reached 204-3 at Harare Sports Club.

Zimbabwe made 197, thanks mainly to Joylord Gumbie (72) and back-in-form Sikandar Raza (37), while Graham Hume and Campher took four wickets each for the Irish.

Ireland missed Josh Little, the six-wicket star of their win on Friday, as he picked up a niggling injury.

The tour marked an impressive start to the captaincy of Stirling as Ireland also won the preceding three-match Twenty20 series. The first ODI was abandoned due to rain.

“I think we saved our best performance for the last match. I am so happy for the lads. We have worked hard recently and it was good to be rewarded,” said the skipper.

Ireland came to the southern African country never having won a series there — then succeeded twice within eight days.

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