With Ballance back, Zimbabwe beats Ireland in 1st T20

Former England batsman Gary Ballance makes his debut for Zimbabwe on the first day of the T20 International cricket match against Ireland at Harare Sports Club in Harare, Zimbabwe, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Gary Ballance made a successful return to play for his country of birth as Zimbabwe beat Ireland by five wickets in the first Twenty20 on Thursday.

Ballance, who was born in Zimbabwe but represented England between 2013 and 2017, hit 30 from 29 balls as the home team chased down Ireland’s 114 all out with two overs to spare to lead the three-match series.

Zimbabwe finished on 118-5, with important contributions from Ballance and Sean Williams, who top-scored with 34 not out.

Ballance played for Zimbabwe’s under-19 team but left to pursue a career in England and ended up playing 23 tests and 16 ODIs for his adopted country.

The 33-year-old made his T20 international debut in Zimbabwe colors on Thursday.

Zimbabwe put Ireland in to bat at Harare Sports Club after winning the toss and Ryan Burl took 3-29 to help limit the Irish.

Tendai Chatara, Richard Ngarava and Wellington Masakadza had two wickets each as Ireland didn’t recover from being 58-5 in the 11th over when George Dockrell was bowled by Burl.