Gaby Lewis, Leah Paul star as Ireland take unassailable lead with dominant win

Gaby Lewis (L) and Leah Paul shared 145-run for the opening wicket © Ireland Cricket

Gaby Lewis’ magnificent unbeaten knock of 96 and her massive 145-run opening partnership with Leah Paul took Ireland to an unassailable 2-1 lead with an eight-wicket win at the Harare Cricket Club in the four-match ODI series against Zimbabwe on Saturday (October 9). Earlier, the spinners restricted the hosts to a moderate total, bowling them out for 178.

Chasing 179 to win, Lewis and Paul – who scored their maiden fifties in the 2nd ODI – continued from where they left in the previous match. After playing cautiously in the first two overs, both of them got their first boundary in the third over bowled by Josephine Nkomo.

The duo didn’t face any trouble from the Zimbabwe bowlers as they laid a solid foundation for the chase. Paul was the aggressor at the start with Lewis taking her time and was on 19 off 43 when Ireland reached the 50-run mark in the 14th over.

21-year-old Lewis showed first signs of aggression when she took on Tasmeen Granger to hit consecutive fours the first over bowled by the off-spinner before hitting Loreen Tshuma for another boundary. A single off Tshuma in the 22nd over helped Lewis to her second fifty in the format from 73 balls.

In the same over, the pair brought up their second century partnership from as many matches to go with their 135-run stand from the second match. Post the three-figure mark, they continued to coast along hitting occasional boundaries.

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Just when it looked like Ireland would romp to a ten-wicket win, Granger struck to remove Paul for 63 off 83 to break the 145-run stand. When Amy Hunter became Granger’s second victim, it was too little too late for Zimbabwe as the visitors needed only 18 more runs to win from last 15 overs.

With the result becoming a foregone conclusion, the interest shifted to whether Lewis would be able to reach her maiden ODI hundred and she gave it her best shot hitting two more boundaries to take herself to 95 with the tourists needing one run to win. Although the opener tried to go for a big shot, she could only score the single that was needed as Ireland reached home with 11 overs to spare.

Earlier, opting to bat, Zimbabwe openers had a sedate start with Chiedza Dhururu and Modester Mupachikwa putting on 39 runs for the opening wicket. In the 14th over, Cara Murray struck for Ireland when she had Dhururu caught by Mary Waldron for 16. Soon Mupachikwa also walked back to the pavilion as she became Murray’s second victim.

From 45 for two, skipper Mary Anne-Musonda and Ashley Ndiraya took Zimbabwe to 76. Once Laura Delany struck to remove her counterpart for 26, Ireland took three wickets in quick succession with Paul joining the wicket-taking column to leave Zimbabwe reeling at 81 for five.

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Despite Precious Marange, Nyasha Gwanzura, and Granger getting starts, none of them went on to score more than 20 as Celeste Raack ran through the lower order to skittle Zimbabwe out for 178 from 47 overs.

For Ireland, Raack was the most successful bowler with figures of three for 34 runs while Murray and Paul took two wickets each.

Brief Scores: Zimbabwe 178/10 in 47 overs (Mary-Anne Musonda 26, Modester Mupachikwa 23; Celeste Raack 3/34, Leah Paul 2/24) lost to Ireland 179/2 in 39 0vers (Gaby Lewis 96*, Leah Paul 63; Tasmeen Granger 2/53) by 8 wickets. POTM: Gaby Lewis