Cricket World Cup 2015: Ireland deny Zimbabwe in thriller

By Jamie LillywhiteBBC Sport
Ed Joyce hits out during his third ODI century
Joyce struck nine fours and three sixes in his 103-ball innings
World Cup, Pool B, Hobart:
Ireland 331-8 (50 overs): Joyce 112; Chatara 3-61
Zimbabwe 326 (49.3 overs): Taylor 121; Cusack 4-32
Ireland won by five runs

Ireland maintained their quest for the World Cup quarter-finals with a tense five-run win over Zimbabwe in Hobart.

Ed Joyce made 112, while Andy Balbirnie was run out three short of a maiden hundred as Ireland posted 331-8, their highest one-day international total.

Zimbabwe required the highest chase in World Cup history and Brendan Taylor hit four sixes in 121 from 91 balls.

Seven were needed from the final over but the last two wickets fell as the Zimbabweans bowed out of the event.

Cricket World Cup 2015: Ireland beat Zimbabwe in Hobart

Ireland next face unbeaten India, who have already qualified, on Tuesday.

The Irish team's final match is the last of the group fixtures in the tournament, against Pakistan on 15 March, when West Indies face UAE, and is likely to determine which other three sides will advance to the quarter-finals from Pool B.

Alan Lewis, former Ireland captain on BBC Test Match Special
"It looks like in this group that you will need eight points to get through but who knows? But the way this group has gone, I don't know what to say."

After a quiet start in which only six fours were scored in the opening 20 overs, Joyce and Balbirnie shared an Irish third-wicket record of 138 in 18 overs.

Sussex left-hander Joyce, who played 17 ODI matches for England from 2006-7, averaging 27, might have departed first ball, but a TV review deemed his edge had fallen short of slip.

He was dropped on 34 and again having completed his third ODI ton, while Balbirnie's attractive innings came to an unfortunate end when his dive was short of the crease while attempting an ambitious second run in the final over.

Despite the formidable target, Taylor, who became only the fourth Zimbabwean to pass 5,000 ODI runs, used his feet in assured fashion, timing the ball exquisitely to compile his first century since 2011.

He had guided his team to within 109 of victory when he was cleverly deceived by Alex Cusack's slower ball in the 38th over, spooning a catch to mid-wicket.

Left-hander Sean Williams, who had added 149 with Taylor, somehow kept his team in contention before, with 32 needed from 19 balls, he holed out to deep mid-wicket on 96, John Mooney taking the catch above his head with his foot perilously close to the boundary boards.

Yet 17 runs from the penultimate over kept the match on a knife-edge before Cusack took the remaining two wickets to finish with 4-32, as Ireland held on for their third victory in four matches.

Listen to highlights from Test Match Special's and Radio 5 live's 2015 World Cup coverage.

Pool B
2South Africa5320+1.466
5West Indies5230-0.514
Brendan Taylor
Taylor made his seventh ODI century in his 166th match
Zimbabwe's Sean Williams
Williams hit two sixes in 96 from 83 balls, his highest ODI score, before he was the seventh man out
Alex Cusack celebrates his double wicket haul in the final over
Cusack took the final two wickets in three balls
Bellerive Oval, Hobart
Hobart's Bellerive Oval was the 14th and final different venue to be used in the competition