Ireland 191 for 4 (McCollum 54, Porterfield 49) beat Zimbabwe 190 all out (Williams 67, Murtagh 3-39) by six wickets
James McCollum's second fifty of the series, and a nuggety 49 from captain William Porterfield, took Ireland to an historic six-wicket win over Zimbabwe in Stormont. Following on from his fifty in Ireland's series-sealing win on Thursday, McCollum set up Ireland's pursuit of Zimbabwe's 190 with 54 at the top of the order. Porterfield's knock pushed Ireland closer to victory, and an unbeaten 35 from Kevin O'Brien secured their very first ODI series clean sweep over a fellow Full Member.
With swing on offer with the new ball, McCollum didn't have it all his own way early in his knock and was given a particularly thorough working over by Kyle Jarvis, playing and missing at three outswingers in a row. But Zimbabwe couldn't make any inroads, despite several near misses and one clear chance that came their way. In the second over of Ireland's chase, Tendai Chatara drew a false shot from Paul Stirling, a leading edge presenting Sean Williams with a tough high chance running back from cover, but it was spilled and Ireland cruised through the Powerplay at better than five an over.
Having scored six consecutive fifty-plus ODI scores, Stirling was in sight of a seventh when he edged an attempted cut off Chatara to fall for 32. Zimbabwe snaffled a second wicket just before the first drinks break, Andy Balbirnie top edging a sweep off Williams before he could get going, but after the interval McCollum and Porterfield continued to find the boundary whenever one was needed to ease pressure.
Porterfield nudged his way past 4,000 ODI runs during a 43-run third wicket stand that steadied Ireland and took the score beyond 100 in the 23rd over. At the other end, McCollum raised his fifty with a handsome drive through cover off Solomon Mire, but then fell against the run of play in Mire's next over, driving a long half volley uppishly into the covers, where Ryan Burl dived to his right to hold the catch.
By then, Ireland needed only 81 more runs from the better part of 25 overs, and Porterfield steadily whittled away at the target alongside Kevin O'Brien. So effective in the last match, today Zimbabwe's spinners struggled to pin Ireland's middle order down, with Porterfield putting the sweep to particularly good use against Sikandar Raza's offspin.
It was Ryan Burl's part-time legspin that finally got the better of Porterfield, however, as he was beaten by sharp turn and bowled for 49 in the 37th over, with Ireland needing just 32. O'Brien administered the last rites, batting a little within himself but still allowing for the odd moment of flair.
"We set out to win the series and obviously to win it 3-0 is pretty good," Porterfield said after the game. "Starting back in May, quite a few cricketers have come in. It's really pleasing that the lads are coming in and making contributions. There's depth in that pool of players and the confidence is right up there."
It was one of Ireland's veterans who set the match up. Once again utilising the conditions expertly, Tim Murtagh picked up 3 for 39 to lead the attack. He found the outside edge of Burl's bat in the third over of the morning, the left-hander having been promoted to open, and then snapped up the vital wicket of Brendan Taylor for the second time in the series. With Craig Ervine dragging a pull at Mark Adair onto his own stumps, Zimbabwe were three down early and the slide began in earnest.
They were tottering at 88 for 6, but Richmond Mutumbami joined a settled Williams at the crease to steady things somewhat with a 43-run stand. Boyd Rankin's pace and bounce snapped the partnership, Mutumbami wafting flat-footed outside off to be caught behind, but after him Jarvis also showed a little stickability to chaperone Williams to his second fifty of the tour.
Williams' desperately unlucky dismissal for 67 - run out at the non-striker's end as Adair palmed a firm drive from Jarvis back onto the stumps - completely opened up Zimbabwe's tail. Jarvis attempted to push things on with a couple of lusty blows, but two overs later Zimbabwe were all out for their lowest total of the tour.
"I'm obviously getting on a bit now, but still enjoying my cricket," Murtagh said after being named Player of the Series for his nine wickets. "And these boys keep me young. I'm enjoying it. They're good kids. They're desperate to learn. Mark's last over in the last game was really special. Shane [Getkate] looks like he's been playing for years."
"We haven't played our best cricket," admitted Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza. "Ireland have showed us up and really put us under the pump. We need to make better decisions under pressure. That's what Ireland have done, every time they're on top, they haven't let us come back."