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It has all been one-way traffic in Zimbabwe's tour of Ireland thus far as the visitors have failed to provide any resistance to Irish momentum. They'll be looking to swing things in their favor with the change of format. Zimbabwe is set to play three-match T20I series on Irish soil beginning with the first match to be played on 10th July at Belfast, the same venue as the last two ODI games. Apart from the first match of the series where Ireland cruised past Zimbabwe's total, both the matches went down to the wire. With Zimbabwe looking to catch-up in the shortest form of the game, we expect the first T20I to be a cracker of a contest.
With a terrific start to their season, Ireland have indeed announced their intent for the World T20s set to be played next year as well as the ICC tournaments going forward. They completed their first-ever clean-sweep over Zimbabweans and will be looking to repeat the same feat in the shortest version of the game.
Ireland appeared to play professionally throughout the series and bounced back from awkward-looking positions on two occasions. Their batting played a crucial role in all of their wins with the likes of Paul Stirling and James McCollum delivering consistent starts. Andrew Balbirnie contributed well and will once again be a key figure for the hosts to do well with the bat.
Considering the conditions on offer generally in Ireland, the pace bowlers or Irish pace bowlers, in particular, were expected to do well in the foregone series and they didn't disappoint. Tim Murtagh, Boyd Rankin, and Mark Adair were all impressive with the ball. Their bowlers kept on picking up wickets at regular intervals, which eventually became the difference between the two sides.
The Irish team were a better unit in the fifty-over format, but the margins of their wins weren't as convincing. They still have plenty of loose ends to fix and if they can do that, beating them at home isn't going to be easy for any team, let alone Zimbabwe.
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Brendan Taylor made a fabulous comeback into the side with a couple of back to back fifties but has been rather quiet since playing those two knocks. His poor form has cost Zimbabwe big time in batting as they have iteratively ended up scoring less than par score or chase down modest totals.
The form of Craig Ervine and Sean Williams is perhaps the only silver-lining for Zimbabwe as far as their batting is concerned. Both batsmen scored heavily in the fifty-over leg of the tour, at an average of over fifty, and will be critical to Zimbabwe's fortunes in the upcoming series.
While their batting failed to get the desired results, their bowling did reasonably well in all the matches. Kyle Jarvis and Tendai Chatara were brilliant in the tournament, but there was a lack of consistency there as well.
In their European tour up until now, Zimbabwe have found themselves in the driving seat more often than not, but have failed to close the crucial moments. The pressure of finishing the match, primarily due to inexperience, has robbed them off a couple of wins. Going forward, it would be imperative for them to play every single moment on merit, and if they can do that, it won't be surprising they end up toppling Ireland with considerable ease, despite the way the things went in the ODI series.
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Change of format didn't prove to be of considerable help for Zimbabwe in their last series, against Netherlands. Although they ended up tying that series, they looked far from convincing in the second match of the series. Ireland, on the other hand, have played percentage cricket, and experience or lack of it hasn't bothered them much. The fact that they're playing at home has also helped them. With more than a couple of batsmen in prime form and bowlers doing in a terrific manner, they are better placed to emerge on top in the upcoming encounter.
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