Josh Little celebrated his 100th cap with a stunning six-wicket haul in Harare yesterday to set Ireland on the way to a hard-fought victory in the second one-day international, and a 1-0 lead in the series going into tomorrow’s final game.

Left-armer Little, who has been superb throughout the tour, ripped into the Zimbabwe top order, taking three wickets in his second over, and dismissing danger man Sinkandar Raza again in his next, to leave the home side reeling on 19/4.

The Pembroke paceman wasn’t finished there, though, and he returned to have top scorer Wellington Mazakadza caught at mid-wicket for 40 before hitting the stumps for a third time to finish with figures of 6/36, the best by an Ireland bowler in ODIs.

Craig Young and spinner Andy McBrine kept the pressure on at the other end, while Harry Tector chipped in with a valuable wicket, leaving skipper Raza to surely rue his decision to bat first as Zimbabwe were skittled for 166 in 42.5 overs.

Raza might also regret clashing with Little in the first T20 and firing up one of the world’s best bowlers who until that point had had an indifferent year with the Boys in Green.

"It was nice to have some personal success on a special day for me,” Little said, having been presented with a commemorative cap by friend and Pembroke team-mate Barry McCarthy before the start.

“The conditions in the first few games did not allow a lot of swing but this time we managed to beat the bat a few times and that kept the ball new. Fortunately I managed to swing it, and the in-swinger is a decent option to the right-handers.”

Matches between the sides are rarely clear cut, though, and after Andy Balbirnie was bowled by the first ball of the reply, Ireland had to graft towards the low target on a pitch of increasingly variable bounce.

Curtis Campher, in his new position at No 3, did the majority of the work with a solid 66 from 71  balls, and cameos from Tector, Lorcan Tucker and Mark Adair helped drag their side over the line with four wickets and 9.5 overs to spare.

New white-ball skipper Paul Stirling has now enjoyed three wins in a row and after becoming the first Ireland captain to win a T20 series on Zimbabwe soil he is keen to double up tomorrow. 

“We are getting better with each game,” Stirling said. “We wanted to go 1-0 up and we managed to tick that box. Now there is a series to win and we will come back hungry.”