Amy Hunter becomes young centurion in ODIs as Ireland clinch series 3-1
Amy Hunter celebrates her record-breaking ton © Ireland Cricket
Amy Hunter became the youngest centurion in ODI cricket on her 16th birthday as Ireland clinched the four-match ODI series 3-1 with a clinical win at the Harare Cricket Club on Monday (October 11). Hunter’s century and her partnerships with Gaby Lewis and Laura Delany helped the visitors to their highest team total in the format. In reply, Zimbabwe fell 85-run short with only Josephine Nkomo offering some resistance.
Put into bat, Ireland got out of the blocks quickly with Leah Paul and Lewis hitting boundaries early in their innings. They were going at more than run-a-ball to reach 37 by the end of the sixth over. However, Esther Mbofana struck against the run of play to dismiss in-form Paul for 12.
That brought young Hunter, playing in her debut series, to the crease as she joined Lewis in the ninth over. At the other end, Lewis continued her good form, smashing her fifth boundary to end the power play on a high. Hunter started aggressively with two fours off Precious Marange before settling down to play the second fiddle. Lewis hit two consecutive boundaries off Tasmeen Granger to go past the fifty-run mark from 51 balls – her third fifty from as many matches – in the 19th over.
Post her fifty, Lewis upped the ante with a six off Granger and was looking on course for her maiden hundred in ODIs. But she had to walk back when Loryn Phiri broke the 104-run partnership with a return catch. Lewis scored 78 off 86 balls.
The platform was set for Hunter and Delany to break free and feast on the hosts’ bowling. Ireland skipper started the innings with a four off Phiri while Hunter brought up her maiden fifty from 64 balls.
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Hunter continued to bat solidly, rotating the strike and mixing it up with occasional boundaries. Delany took on aggressive mantle and hit Granger for consecutive fours. Together they added more than 100 runs in quick time to take the score well past 200 with plenty of overs to spare.
In the 44th over, Hunter got to the coveted milestone – breaking the longstanding record of India’s Mithali Raj – to become the youngest ODI centurion as she reached her hundred in style when she flicked Audrey Mazvishaya for a four. Despite Delany’s dismissal, Ireland continued on their merry ways and eventually finished on 312 for three from their 50 overs with Hunter remaining unbeaten on 121 off 127 balls.
Chasing a mammoth total, Zimbabwe lost Modester Mupachikwa early with Jane Maguire striking in the second over. Ashley Ndiraya and Nkomo kept the hosts in the game with a 96-run partnership. The pair hit occasional boundaries, but couldn’t stay on course with the required run rate mounting every passing over.
With the Zimbabwe score touching the three-figure mark, Celeste Raack stuck in the 24th over to remove Ndiraya. Skipper Mary-Anne Musonda tried to go for a few shots even as Nkomo took her time to reach her fifty from 83 balls. Musonda scored 20 from her first 15 balls to add 39 more runs to the team total in quick time.
However, Zimbabwe lost Nkomo in the 31st over with Cara Murray dismissing her for 66. Chiedza Dhururu, at number four, struggled to keep the scorecard moving despite Musonda putting her best foot forward. The pressure put on by Delany eventually resulted in Dhururu and Musonda losing wickets in quick succession.
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Once they lost Musonda, the home side couldn’t find anyone to force the pace and eventually a few blows from Nyasha Gwanzura and Granger only helped them reduce the margin of defeat. Zimbabwe finished their innings on 227 for eight, 85 runs short of Ireland’s score.
For Ireland, Delany and Sophie MacMahon picked up two wickets each while four other bowlers picked one wicket each.
Brief Scores: Ireland 312/3 in 50 overs (Amy Hunter 121*, Gaby Lewis 78, Laura Delany 68) beat Zimbabwe 227/8 in 50 overs (Josephine Nkomo 66, Ashley Ndiraya 38; Laura Delany 2/32, Sophie MacMahon 2/44) by 85 runs POTM: Amy Hunter