Ireland eye turnaround after loss to Zimbabwe in T20I opener

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Dublin, Aug 29 (IANS) Ireland, who came up short against Zimbabwe in the first T20I of the five-match series, will be looking for an improved performance in the second game when the teams clash at the same venue again later on Sunday.

Zimbabwe will take great heart from winning a close game on Friday, especially after the Bangladesh series where they failed to seize their chances during crucial junctures in the white-ball leg. They will also be delighted with Regis Chakabva, who has been in great touch and carried his form into the series with a Player of the Match-winning performance in the first T20I.

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A win in the second T20I will take Zimbabwe within touching distance of a bilateral series win, a feat they haven’t achieved since 2010.

Meanwhile, Ireland will be ruing the fact that they let the game slip after the openers got off to a steady start. The middle order crumbled under pressure, something that was witnessed even during their 3-0 loss in the T20I series against South Africa.

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In reply to Zimbabwe’s 117/7 in 20 overs, the hosts could manage only 114/9, losing by three runs in the opening T20I.

Simi Singh has been one of the few bright spots for Ireland, and he shone once again with both bat and ball (2/22 and 28 not out). While his form will be crucial to the hosts’ chances of making a comeback in the series, captain Andy Balbirnie will be hoping for a few of his experienced men to put their hands up as well.

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Though winning the series will be of utmost importance to both the teams, they will also want to use these matches as an opportunity to test their readiness for important tournaments coming up — the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 for Ireland, and the Qualifiers for the 2022 edition of the tournament for Zimbabwe.

Balbirnie had said after that loss that his team was not good enough with the bat. “Very disappointed. Not good enough with the bat. Started tentatively and got into a run a ball situation. We back ourselves to get that sort of total but we never got a grip of it. Have to reassess and go again on Sunday. It’s a long series, hopefully, we can come back on Sunday with different plans,” Balbirnie said.

–IANS

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