Nagpur: Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura scored a superb century in vain on Tuesday, as Ireland rallied for a four-wicket victory with just three balls to spare in a World Cup warm-up match on Tuesday.
Chasing 245 for victory, Ireland started badly by losing explosive opener Paul Stirling without scoring at the VCA Jamtha stadium. But South African-born Andre Botha, who topscored with 79, and Kevin O'Brien, who added 62, made a decisive contribution after they came together at 127-4.
The pair added 99 runs for the fifth wicket to lay the foundations of Ireland's victory.
When Botha departed in the 47th over, Ireland needed just 19 runs in 20 balls and it looked like the match was over — only for left-arm spinner Ray Price to take the wicket of Gary Wilson and throw the game open again.
Ireland, which had labored to 100-3 in 25 overs, needed five runs from the last six balls. After a single, John Mooney fiercely cut Shingi Masakadza to the point boundary to level the score and then flicked the next delivery for the winning run and a final total of 245-6.
For Zimbabwe, the result was a bitter disappointment after the side had fought back from a poor start and Chigumbura had rattled up 103.
Zimbabwe was struggling at 3-12 after Brendan Taylor, Charles Coventry and Sean Williams made early exits after Ireland's acting skipper Trent Johnston twice induced the edge, while Boyd Rankin managed it once. Wicket keeper Wilson took all three catches.
Zimbabwe's former skipper Tatenda Taibu broke the shackles in the 11th over, when he scooped a Boyd Rankin delivery over the covers for the first boundary of the innings.
Chigumbura shone with the bar and Taibu made 45 to build a respectable total of 244-8 after Craig Ervine (27) had steadied the ship, while Johnston returned Ireland's best figures with 9-2.