World record-breaker Amy Hunter leads Ireland to series victory over Zimbabwe
HARARE, Zimbabwe – On her 16th birthday, Ireland’s Amy Hunter hit an unbeaten century and became the youngest cricketer (men or women) to score an international hundred, as Ireland Women claimed a 3-1 series victory over Zimbabwe in emphatic style.
The Belfast-born Hunter scored a near flawless 121* off 127 deliveries, which include 8 fours – her innings total eclipsing the highest individual score for Ireland Women by one run (Karen Young scored 120 v Pakistan in 2000).
However, it was not just Hunter that achieved records and milestones today – the Ireland Women’s total of 312-3 in 50 overs was their highest-ever ODI team score, Gaby Lewis continued her great run of form hitting a third straight half-century of the series, and both captain Laura Delany and wicketkeeper Mary Waldron played in their respective 150th international match for Ireland (across all formats).
The 3-1 series win also represented Ireland Women’s first-ever bilateral ODI series win away from home.
Earlier in the day, captain Delany lost her fourth straight toss of the series and Ireland was put into bat first. This turned out to be a decision that Zimbabwe would rue.
Lewis and opening partner Leah Paul – who together had scored back-to-back century opening stands prior to today – again looked solid in a 40-run partnership, before Paul was bowled for 12.
Lewis and Hunter then came together and put on 104 for the second wicket – Lewis the aggressor of the pair struck 78 from 87 balls (her third straight half-century of the series) before falling to a diving caught & bowled by Loryn Phiri (1-51). Lewis had an outstanding series with the bat finishing top run-scorer with 263 runs at an average of 87.67.
That brought captain Delany to join Hunter at the crease and the pair mounted an assault on the home bowlers. Their 143-run third-wicket stand came off just 115 balls with Delany hitting 68 from 53 balls, and Hunter registering her maiden international century off 110 balls. While Delany was impressive with her strokeplay and power, Hunter rotated the strike regularly - the 45 singles and 16 twos she registered a testament to her ability to pace her innings well and compile runs with ease.
Orla Prendergast (12 off 10 balls) and Hunter struck 25 off the final three overs and carried Ireland Women’s total to 312-3 after their 50 overs.
In response, the Zimbabwean innings got off to a bad start losing Modester Mupachikwa for 2 in the second over, and while the partnering of Ashley Ndiraya (38) and Josephine Nkomo (66) mounted a 96-run second-wicket stand, the home side never looked in the hunt.
Ireland’s bowlers impressed again on what looked a batter-friendly pitch - Jane Maguire (1-24), Cara Murray (1-33) and Celeste Raack (1-24) made key breakthroughs, while impressive spells from Delany (2-32) and Sophie MacMahon (2-44) ensured the Zimbabwe batters found it hard to score freely.
The hosts eventually finished on 227-8 after their 50 overs, with Ireland claiming the match today by 85 runs and the series 3-1.
Zimbabwe Women v Ireland Women ODI Series, 4th ODI, Harare Sports Club, 11 October 2021
Ireland 312-3 (50 overs: A Hunter 121*, G Lewis 78, L Delany 68; J Nkomo 1-45)
Zimbabwe 227-8 (50 overs: J Nkomo 66, A Ndiraya 38; L Delany 2-32, S MacMahon 2-44)
Ireland won by 85 runs (Ireland won the series 3-1)