Shauna Kavanagh's maiden one-day international half century wasn't enough to prevent Ireland Women slipping to a six-wicket loss to Zimbabwe in the second game of their Quadrangular Series in South Africa.
The Pembroke all-rounder thumped six boundaries as she top scored with 53 from 63 balls as the Girls In Green posted 209.
After being put in to bat, the Irish lost the experienced Mary Waldron - winning her 100th cap - for 4, but Leah Paul (33), skipper Laura Delany (13) and Gaby Lewis (20) all reached double figures as the Irish produced their best batting display of the tour.
Jenny Gray (24) shared a 5th wicket stand of 54 with Kavanagh, but her dismissal by Precious Marange (4-32) saw the Irish go from a position of strength at 151 for 4 after 34 overs, to 209 all out with 23 balls unused.
That collapse was to cost Ireland dearly as Zimbabwe overcame early resistance to seal the win.
Two wickets apiece from the impressive Rachel Delaney (2-21) and Shauna Kavanagh (2-47) reduced the Africans to 86 for 4, but an unbroken 5th wicket stand of 125 in 22.4 overs between Player of the Match Mary-Anne Musonda (65*) and skipper Sharne Mayers (46*) saw their team recover to claim victory with three overs to spare.
The Irish cause wasn't helped by the concession of 40 extras, including 32 wides, which gives the coaching staff something to work on ahead of the next game.
"I think everyone's a little bit disappointed with the result from today," said Kavanagh.
"I think though that we can take a lot from the game. There were definite improvements in areas that we'd spoken about. I was particularly impressed with Leah Paul who is getting stronger and better with every game.
"Myself and Jenny Gray had a good partnership but perhaps it needed for one of the two of us to be there at the end rather than relying on the girls in the shed.
"We weren't at our best with the ball or in the field but I did think Rachel Delaney was super with the ball up front and throughout her spell. Lara Maritz was impressive as well - she has so much fire and passion, which is refreshing to see.
"There were only four of today's team that played against Zimbabwe in the recent World Cup Qualifiers win so it's obviously a steep learning curve but we'll keep getting better and we are all looking forward to the challenges ahead."
Ireland are next in action on Thursday when they take on South Africa.
Women's Quadrangular Series (In South Africa)
At Senwes Park, Potchefstroom,
Ireland Women 209 all out (46.1 overs; S Kavanagh 53, L Paul 33, J Gray 24, G Lewis 20, P Marange 4-32, J Nkomo 2-31, M Musonda 2-31)
Zimbabwe Women 211-4 (47 overs; M Musonda 65*, S Mayers 46*, L Tshuma 2-31, R Delaney 2-21, S Kavanagh 2-47)
Zimbabwe Women won by six wickets