Cricket: Ireland dethroned as bowlers toil
IRELAND'S five-year reign as Intercontinental Cup holders ended in Harare yesterday when Zimbabwe gained a first-innings lead in Phil Simmons' side's final qualifying game of the 2009/10 campaign.
On the flattest of pitches at the Harare Sports Club, overnight pair Sean Williams and Keith Dabengwa both scored big centuries that first saved the follow-on and then took their side close to Ireland's total of 465.
Williams drove a catch to cover on 178 to give John Mooney his first IC Cup wicket and Dabengwa fell to Kevin O'Brien for 140 but only after sharing in partnerships of 237 with Williams and 104 with Regis Chakabva.
O'Brien stirred the Ireland corpse by having Chakabva lbw for 54 with Zimbabwe still eight in arrears, but the Africans had four wickets in hand when they took a lead that ensured there would be no fourth successive winners' medal for Trent Johnston and Andrew White.
Ireland went wicketless through the first session yesterday and by lunch on the third day it was clear that even if a first-innings lead was still possible, there wasn't enough time left for the outright win that was required from the four-day match.
Skipper William Porterfield rotated his bowlers without success and was again without Andre Botha who was still suffering swelling to a hand injury that required three stitches on Tuesday after a fielding accident during the warm-up.
By stumps, Zimbabwe had reached 506-6 -- a lead of 41 -- and the home side could yet embarrass the former champions on the final afternoon.
However, anything other than a draw today will be a huge surprise.