Six months out from the World Cup, Ireland claimed a morale-boosting first series win in Zimbabwe with a six wickets victory in the deciding T20 international in Harare.

A century partnership between player of the series Harry Tector and George Dockrell eased the tourists to victory with eight balls to spare in pursuit of the hosts 140 for six.

Admittedly it was against a Zimbabwe team, who failed to qualify for the World Cup after losing to Uganda (ranked 22nd) and who were without their star all-rounder Sikander Raza who was banned from the final two games for his altercation with Josh Little and Curtis Camper in Thursday’s first game.

Add on injuries to their second and third best batters, Sean Williams and former Lisburn professional Craig Ervine, and it was an open goal for Paul Stirling to win his first series as white-ball captain and despite scraping home on Saturday with two balls to spare and losing three wickets in the powerplay yesterday, it was a satisfied skipper.

“After losing such a tight first game you can fall apart really quickly but we did well to come back. We’ve been here for well over a week and after that kind of preparation time you don’t have any excuses left,” said Stirling. “So delighted to get over the line.”

Ireland reverted to the team that lost the opening game, with Barry McCarthy replacing Theo van Woerkom who bowled only one over on Saturday, and Stirling again to chose to field first after winning his second successive toss.

After Josh Little struck with his first ball, Gareth Delany took two wickets in four balls to reduce Zimbabwe to 44 for three but for the second day in a row acting captain Ryan Burl and Clive Madande held up Ireland, this time with a partnership of 55. Craig Young, the leading wicket-taker in the series, ended  the stand and when Little had Burl caught at mid-off next ball, Ireland were in control.

Worryingly, though, the top three were all back in the pavilion with just 30 runs on the board - Ireland had lost their 16 T20Is when losing three wickets in the powerplay - and when Curtis Campher followed for just five it was 37 for four after seven overs.

But Tector and Dockrell would not be moved. Tector’s unbeaten 54 from 45 balls took his series average to 63 and Dockrell was named man of the match for his 49 from 32; he hit three fours and three sixes.

The teams next move into 50-over mode with the first of the three ODIs, at the Harare Sports Club, on Wednesday.

Scores: Zimbabwe 140-6 (R Burl 36, B Bennett 27, C Madande 27; G Delany 2-8, J Little 2-21, C Young 2-27) Ireland 141-4 (H Tector 54 not out, G Dockrell 49 not out, A Balbirnie 13). Ireland win by 6 wickets and the series 2-1.