sport

Ireland squeeze to Zim win

Ireland opened their ICC World Twenty20 qualfying campaign with a dramatic St Patrick's Day victory over Zimbabwe in Sylhet, Bangladesh.

The Irish appeared to be cruising when on 129-2 in pursuit of the 164 winning target, only to suffer a middle-order collapse before claiming a nervy win with three wickets to spare.

Stuart Thompson and Alex Cusack somehow managed to scamper a bye off the final delivery to secure a precious win, however Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor will be ruing his missed shy at the stumps, which would have forced a Super Over.

Ireland will qualify for the Group Stages of the World Twenty20 with victories over Netherlands and UAE later in the week.

Stirling effort

Paul Stirling's fifth Twenty20 half-century had given Ireland a flying start to a testing run-chase.

The Middlesex opener cracked nine fours and a six in his 34-ball 60, sharing an 80-run partnership with captain Will Porterfield (31) for the first wicket.

Stirling hit paceman Panyangara for four boundaries in one over before he fell with the total on 100.

Ireland then lost three quick wickets to Panyangara, including that of hard-hitting Kevin O'Brien (17), sparking a scramble in the Ireland changing room.

With only fours runs required off the final ball and Ed Joyce at the crease, Ireland looked on course to canter home before Panyangara clipped Joyce's leg stump with a perfect yorker.

Max Sorenson was run out the next ball to leave two needed from two balls, however Thompson and Cusack somehow got the job done.

Zimbabwe had earlier posted a credible 163-5 thanks to captain Taylor's 46-ball 59 at the top of the order.

The Zimbabwe skipper hit six boundaries and two towering sixes, while Elton Chigumbura made 22 and Hamilton Masakadza scored 21.