Ireland beat Zimbabwe by five runs

By Andrew Drummond
AAP
Ireland hold on for dramatic victory

An explosive century from Brendan Taylor has failed to save Zimbabwe from a thrilling five-run loss to Ireland, knocking the Africans out of cricket World Cup finals contention.

Chasing 332 for victory and after losing four early wickets, stand-in skipper Taylor came to the middle of Hobart's Bellerive Oval on Saturday to steady the ship.

He fired 11 boundaries and four sixes in an electric innings of 121 off 91 balls to become the sole Zimbabwean batsman in the 2015 tournament to reach three figures.

He found support from Sean Williams (96 off 83), with the pair notching up a 149-run partnership.

But the big-hitting Taylor came unstuck as he played an Alex Cusack delivery high into the offside to be caught by Kevin O'Brien.

Requiring 75 runs from the final eight overs, Williams tried to continue the momentum, belting seven boundaries and two sixes.

But he faced a disciplined Ireland bowling attack, led by Cusack and was dismissed in the 47th over, caught high on the boundary on an O'Brien delivery.

Zimbabwe were all out for 326 with three balls remaining.

The result means that with just one victory from five matches, Zimbabwe cannot make the tournament's quarter-finals.

After losing the toss and being sent in to bat first, Ireland's innings was boosted by a century from Ed Joyce (112 off 103).

Repeated clumsiness let Zimbabwe down in the field, including dropping Joyce at 34 and again at 105.

But the offender on the second occasion, Craig Ervine, made up for his mistake the following over, catching the Irish No.3 at short midwicket off a slow full-toss delivery by Tendai Chatara (3-61).

Joyce had joined with Andrew Balbirnie (97 off 79) for a valuable 138-run partnership.

Balbirnie missed by just three runs reaching his century, runout in the final over when Ireland finished with 8-331.

Zimbabwe started well in reply but came unstuck in the eighth over, from where they lost three wickets for nine runs, falling to 3-41.

The side was playing without captain Elton Chigumbura, who has suffered a thigh injury.

He is also in doubt for Zimbabwe's final group B match on March 14 against India who are already guaranteed a quarter-finals berth.