Hobart, Australia: Ireland pulled off another World Cup upset over a test-playing nation after big innings from Ed Joyce and Andy Belbirnie proved just enough to hold off Zimbabwe by five runs in a Pool B match Saturday.
Alex Cusack (4-32) claimed two wickets in the final over after Joyce smashed a century at more than a run-a-ball to help Ireland to a big score of 331-8.
Player of the match Joyce made 112 runs off 103 balls with nine fours and three sixes at Bellerive Oval and shared Ireland's biggest-ever ODI third-wicket stand of 138 with Belbirnie, who scored 97 off 79 with seven fours and four sixes before he was run out in the final over.
"I thought it was a very good score, knew it was a very good wicket, but we knew it was going to be difficult, especially with the short square boundaries," Ireland captain William Porterfield said.
Despite an imperious century from stand-in Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams' 96, the Irish bowlers' early inroads and Cusack's last over ensured the target was narrowly out of reach.
Zimbabwe is now effectively eliminated from the World Cup, while Ireland remains in quarterfinal contention.
"It's pretty frustrating to be in a winning situation again, and throw it away a little bit. Ireland were a little bit more hungry, they deserved to win," said Taylor.
The Irish bowlers made the most of the new ball and John Mooney (2-58) broke through in the eighth over when he had Sikandar Raza caught by Paul Stirling at slip for 12 and Cusack dismissed Chamunorwa Chibhabha in the next over for 18.
Kevin O'Brien (2-90) had Hamilton Masakadza caught behind for 5 in the 11th over and George Dockrell dismissed Solomon Mire (11) shortly after to leave Zimbabwe reeling at 74-4.
Taylor drove 11 boundaries and four big sixes in his aggressive knock before becoming Cusack's second victim when he lofted a slower delivery to Kevin O'Brien at mid-on.
Williams hit seven boundaries and two sixes in his knock before falling victim to O'Brien and opening the floodgates as Ireland made short work of the tail.
Earlier, Zimbabwe made a bright start after winning the toss and electing to bowl when Tinashe Panyangara dismissed Stirling in just the third over.
Porterfield steadied the innings in a 63-run partnership with Joyce before he was caught by Masakadza at mid-off for 29 off Williams.
After Joyce became Chatara's first victim, caught by Craig Ervine, the Zimbabwe attack began to make inroads and Chatara next claimed O'Brien, caught by Regis Chakabva for 24.
"I had a lot of luck early on before I got to 30 or 40, and I needed that," Joyce said. "They bowled well initially, back of a length, it was difficult to get away. Andrew Balbirnie was brilliant too."
Williams dismissed Gary Wilson for 25 and Ireland then relinquished its next three wickets for just 18 runs.