T20 World Cup: Ireland lose to Zimbabwe in opening match

ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Blundstone Arena, Hobart
Zimbabwe 174-7 (20 overs): Raza 82 (48); 3-24 small
Ireland 143-9 (20 overs): Camphor 27 (22); Muzarabani 3-23
Zimbabwe won by 31 runs
Scorecard; Table

It was a disappointing campaign for Ireland in the Men’s T20 World Cup as Sikandar Raza powered Zimbabwe to a 31-run victory in Hobart.

Raza reached 37-3 in the powerplay but scored 82 off 48 balls before being bowled out for Zimbabwe’s 174-7 off the last ball.

Ireland slipped to 22-4 from 3.5 overs and never recovered, finishing well on 143-9.

Scotland surprised the West Indies who beat them twice in the previous group B match.

Ireland face Scotland in their next game on Wednesday (05:00 BST), knowing they must win to keep their hopes of progressing alive. West Indies must also do the same against Zimbabwe (09:00).

The top two teams in each group will qualify for the Super 12, which will begin on October 22. The winner of group A and the runner-up of group B will face England.

Raza raises his hand but Ireland with a short bat

Despite having seen the West Indies not chase down successfully earlier, Andrew Balbirnie decided he wanted to do the same in this game, and Ireland started well with the ball.

Left-armer Josh Little, who impressed for Manchester Originals in The Hundred in the summer, struck twice as Ireland continued their impressive powerplay record.

Usually sides losing three wickets in the powerplay lose the match, but that statistic doesn’t account for performances like Raza’s.

The right-hander treated the Irish bowling with contempt, hitting five sixes. He departed regularly, hitting 53 of his runs through mid-off and square leg.

Ireland took regular wickets, but not being able to get Raza until the last ball saw Zimbabwe record a World Cup score.

The chase couldn’t have started worse with Paul Stirling dismissed off the second ball, before Lorcan Tucker followed in the third.

Harry Tector and Balbirnie then failed to manage a probing line and extra bounce that found Blessing Muzarabani, both smeared at first slip, to effectively end the game.

Although Curtis Campher made 27 and George Dockrell – who was bowled by Raza – and Gareth Delany both added 24, it never felt like Ireland would be chasing them.

Zimbabwe, who have now won eight of their last nine T20 matches, did well with the ball, bowl to bowler with regularity, but the dropped catches went towards the back and could prove costly against better opposition.