Hobart, March 7:
Two brilliant innings from Ed Joyce (112) and Andy Balbirnie (97) guided Ireland to a mammoth 331/8 against Zimbabwe in a World Cup Pool B encounter at the Bellerive Oval here on Saturday.
Asked to bat, left-handed Joyce led the Irish by scoring his third One-Day International (ODI) century while Balbirnie smashed a quick fire 97 off 79 deliveries to give Ireland another chance of beating a Test playing nation at the World Cup.
Ireland started poorly, losing opener Paul Stirling (10) early in the third over. Captain William Porterfield stuck it out in the middle to score a patient 29 off 61 deliveries but eventually gifted his wicket to left-arm spinner Sean Williams (3/72) with Ireland at 79 in the 21st over.
Thereon, a brilliant 138-run third-wicket partnership between Joyce and Balbirnie gave the Irish the platform to put up a big total. Joyce stroked nine beautiful boundaries and three sixes in his 103-ball knock while Balbirnie hammered his second ODI half-century which included seven fours and four huge sixes.
Right-hander Balbirnie had a super chance of scoring his maiden hundred in his 15th ODI but was run out while trying to accelerate on the first ball of the last over.
Kevin O’Brien (24) and wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Wilson (25) also played important cameos at the fag end of the innings to take Ireland to the highest total by an Associate team in World Cups and third highest in ODI history.
The Zimbabwean bowlers looked totally unimpressive even though Tendai Chatara (3-61) and Williams picked up three wickets each.
Brief scores: Ireland 331/8 in 50 overs (Ed Joyce 112, Andy Balbirnie 97; Tendai Chatara 3-61, Sean Williams 3-72). IANS