Harry Tector was instrumental in delivering back-to-back victories for Ireland over the weekend at the Harare Sports Club and a first series victory on Zimbabwean soil, as the visitors shaded three closely-fought T20 internationals.

Tector struck 48 to see the Boys in Green to within reach of a four-wicket win that drew the sides level on Saturday and stayed to finish the job yesterday with an unbeaten 54 that delivered a six-wicket victory with eight balls to spare.

The two sides are so evenly matched that the decisive moment of the series probably came in the referee’s room before the second contest when Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza was banned for two games following an on-field altercation on Thursday.

Raza was found guilty of clashing with both Josh Little and Curtis Campher, who received lesser sanctions, and the key allrounder’s absence tipped the odds in Ireland’s favour.

The matches still had to be won, though, and at 54/3 chasing 166 on Saturday, and 37/4 in reply to Zimbabwe’s 140/6 in the decider, it needed Tector’s cool knowhow to keep the ship on course, and a dollop or two of good fortune too.

Two of his three fours yesterday were via an inside edge and a missed chance at short third man while there was no doubt about his two sixes, both picked up beautifully and deposited over long leg.

George Dockrell went one better in the sixes column, including two vital clubs over long on in the 13th over that contributed to his 49 not out from 32 balls, and the Man-of-the-Match award, after adding an unbeaten 104 with Tector.

“We’re delighted to get over the line,” new skipper Paul Stirling said. “After losing such a tight first game on the final ball it would have been easy to fall apart really quickly, but we did well to come back.”

The two sides will be in action again on Wednesday in the first of three one-day internationals, with Stirling confident his mis-firing top order will come good over the longer course.

The bowling department is looking in good order, with Little back to something approaching the form that has earned him two IPL contracts, and fellow seamer Craig Young claiming five wickets in the series.

Gareth Delany, who took 2/8 from two overs of leg-spin that stalled the Zimbabwe innings in the decider, is not in the ODI squad, though, and on yesterday’s evidence Ireland might regret that.