Ex-England Batter Gary Ballance Makes Winning Debut

In the T20 Match between Zimbabwe and Ireland at the Harare Sports Club on Thursday, former England Batter Gary Ballance makes a memorable debut. With his 30 runs, Ballance helped Zimbabwe towards a five-wicket victory.

After the match, however, the batter was barred from talking to the media. A Zimbabwe Cricket spokesman told reporters the 33-year-old was “not yet ready for interviews as he was still settling in.”

Man of the match Ryan Burl, who took three wickets for Zimbabwe, on the other hand, had plenty of positive things to say about Ballance. “He has fitted in well. We are picking his brains, and he is learning from us. We are really happy to have him in the side,” he said.

During the match, Ireland had been dismissed for 114 in 19.2 overs. It was a four from wicketkeeper Clive Madande who lifted Zimbabwe to 118-5 with 12 balls to spare.

This was Ballance’s first T20 International with Zimbabwe, and the batter compiled the second-highest Zimbabwe score behind Sean Williams (34) after facing 29 balls and hitting one six and two fours.

His innings ended in the fourth ball of the 12th over when a faint nick was caught by wicketkeeper Stephen Doheny off a lengthy delivery by right-arm fast-medium bowler Mark Adair.

The 33-year-old left-handed batter had signed a two-year contract to play domestic and international cricket with Zimbabwe last month. Having been born in Harare, Zimbabwe, Balance was eligible to switch international allegiance after playing 23 Tests and 16 one-day internationals in an England career that ended six years ago.

The transfer happened after Ballance was released by English county Yorkshire last year. At that time, Zimbabwe lacked a star batter, Sikandar Raza. Raza was shortlisted for three 2022 International Cricket Council awards and is currently playing franchise cricket in Bangladesh.

Ballance played 23 tests for England between 2014 and 2017, scoring 1,498 runs, including four centuries, at an average of 37.45. Before playing his first T20 International match with Zimbabwe, Ballance had played 101 T20 matches, scoring 1837 runs with an average of 23.25.

When the batter was dismissed in the match, Sean Williams carried on where Ballance left off to ensure a home victory in the first of three T20 internationals. In addition to having strong batters, Zimbabwe also had strong batters with right-arm leg spinner Ryan Burl being the most successful bowler on the team with a score of 3-29.

Out of the different players on the Irish team, Adair and off-spinner Harry Tector were the most successful Irish bowlers, capturing two wickets each. When Ireland went up to bat, Ireland lost openers Ross Adair and skipper Andy Balbirnie with just 12 runs on the scoreboard.

Ireland has a chance at a comeback with their 2nd and 3rd T20 matches against Zimbabwe on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Following the T20 matches, the two teams will be having ODI matches starting on January 18 (Wednesday).

Before this, the two teams had met at the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia with Zimbabwe winning a first-round match by 31 runs.

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