Leah Paul: Opener hits career-best 95 to help Ireland level Zimbabwe series

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Leah Paul plays a reverse sweep shot in her impressive innings in Harare on ThursdayLeah Paul used timing and placement to great effect in his 118-ball innings
Ireland 286-7 (50 overs): Paul 95, Lewis 65, Delany 35; Nkomo 1-33, Marange 1-38
Zimbabwe 206-9 (50 overs): Nkomo 70*; Murray 3-56; Raack 2-23, Paul 1-29
Ireland won by 80 runs
Scorecard (external site)external-link

Leah Paul's career-best 95 saw Ireland regroup from their opening defeat to earn a 80-run win over Zimbabwe in game two of the one-day series in Harare.

Paul's 118-ball innings helped Ireland post 286-7 as she and Gaby Lewis (65) produced an opening stand of 135.

Laura Delany's knock of 35 continued the strong Irish batting effort as Orla Prendergast (23) and Shauna Kavanagh (34) also added valuable runs.

Cara Murray took three Zimbabwe wickets as the hosts could only manage 206-9.

Twenty-two-year-old Paul, playing in just her sixth ODI, struck eight boundaries in a patient knock as she used timing and placement to great effect.

A particular feature of her innings was the ability to seemingly turn the strike over at will as she scored 38 singles and 11 twos on a pitch that seemed to reward patience and good judgement.

Lewis, who had taken the reins as lead aggressor early, brought up her maiden ODI half-century in the 20th over with the pair's 100-run partnership coming in same over.

After Lewis departed, Paul's 67-run partnership with Delany pushed Ireland over the 200 run mark before the opener was caught behind just five short of her century by Zimbabwe wicket-keeper Modester Mupachikwa off a Precious Marange delivery.

Ireland debutant Jane Maguire produced an impressive line and length in Zimbabwe's reply which combined with Paul's left-arm restricted the hosts to 21-0 as they reached the 11th over.

The pressure eventually took its toll as Kavanagh ran out Mupachikwa (14) with Murray grabbing two key wickets, including that of the Zimbabwean captain and centurion from the last match Mary-Anne Musonda.

That left Zimbabwe at 74-4 after 25 overs and while Josephine Nkomo hit an unbeaten 70 off 86 balls, the Irish total was never in danger.

The two sides meet again at the same venue on Saturday before the final game in the four-match series on Monday.

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