Amid deafening scenes from an ecstatic near capacity crowd at the Harare Sports Club, Zimbabwe’s Luke Jongwe hit the final ball of the 19th over to the boundary to clinch the T20 Series against Ireland.

For the third successive game, the captain who won the toss, won the match as Andrew Balbirnie’s gamble to bring back George Dockrell for the 18th over ended in spectacular style.

It was a fair enough decision, the experienced slow left arm bowler had conceded only one boundary in his previous five overs on this tour but when Ryan Burl hit the second from the fourth ball, he followed up with another huge hit and a boundary four off the last ball put Zimbabwe within seven runs of victory.

Barry McCarthy, given the next over, bowled Clive Madende with a beauty but could not contain Jongwe who was just inches short of finishing the series in the grand manner.

It was the 18th over that, unfortunately decided the match. With five overs to go, 97 for four played 97 for five and with three to go, Ireland were one run ahead at the same stage, albeit having lost one more wicket.

But to be fair to Burl, he took the game by the scruff of the neck. When he entered in the 15th over, he struck his first ball for four and just carried on, totally in control. The player of the match in the first game with the ball, finished 30 not out from just 11 balls. You just can’t compete with that and unsurprisingly he was named player of the series.

Ireland made the decision to make three changes for the decider, leaving out Gareth Delany, Tyrone Kane and, surprisingly, Graham Hume, their best and most successful bowler in Saturday’s six wickets victory. In came Neil Rock, who kept wicket and Ben White, plus the return of McCarthy.

Tector is now a definite option with the new ball and although he didn’t take a wicket in his first over this time, figures of one for 14 from his four overs are analysis which captain Andy Balbirnie can rely on going forward.

McCarthy made the initial breakthough but Ireland had to wait another six overs and 42 runs before Tector claimed the second.

White also took two wickets, the first to a stunning one-handed reaction catch by Balbirnie but it was skipper Craig Ervine who was again the sticking plaster of the Zimbabwe innings. He brought up a chanceless 50 from 39 balls, with six boundaries. But when Mark Adair had him caught at extra cover, it seemed to be game on. But Burl was already in the middle.

Ireland left runs out in the middle after an innings when wickets fell at the wrong time.

There was no follow-up for Ross Adair, after his maiden half-century on Saturday, as he sliced his third ball into the covers for a comfortable catch by Craig Ervine.

Stephen Doheny had been listed at number seven on the team-sheet, to allow his replacement behind the stumps, Neil Rock, to bat at three but the early wicket changed that and Doheny was sent in immediately. He was back in the players’ tent almost as quickly driving his fourth ball straight to extra cover. It was the second successive disappointing shot by the new boy.

However, it did ensure Harry Tector had plenty of time in the middle and he was the class act on view, despite hitting just three boundaries in his 38-ball innings. After Balbirnie was bowled in the fourth over, leaving Ireland 19 for three, Tector and Curtis Campher added 70 with a lot of running but plenty of good strike rotation.

Campher hit only two boundaries in his 27, his innings ending from a top edge sweep shot to the keeper but there should not have been any panic from Ireland at this stage as they were 89 for four with the best part of seven overs remaining.

Two overs later, however it was 100 for six as Tector was bowled by a quicker ball from spinner Wesley Madhevere and Rock’s delay to the middle didn’t help him as he was then beaten by the turn and caught at extra cover.

Mark Adair started impressively with a boundary from his second ball through point and Dockrell, as is his default, scored from virtually every ball. It was 15 scoring shots from 17 this time with the second his dismissal to the first ball of the last over, caught at long-off.

McCarthy hit his first ball for six but his second down the throat of the long-on fielder and Fionn Hand had to rely on extras from the final two balls to get Ireland through the 140 barrier.

It wasn’t quite enough.