Afghanistan Clinch ICC WT20 Qualifier Final Victory
Afghanistan 147-2 (Mohammad Shehzad 65no) beat
Ireland 142-8 (N O'Brien, Cusack 28) by eight wickets
ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier final, Dubai
Afghanistan added the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier title to their three World Cricket League Divisional titles with an eight-wicket win over Ireland in the final in Dubai.
The victory, set up first by three wickets from captain Nowroz Mangal, and then an unbeaten half-century from Mohammad Shehzad, ensures Afghanistan will play India and South Africa in Group C of the ICC World Twenty20 in the Caribbean while Ireland will take their place in Group D alongside England and hosts the West Indies.
Although Mangal returned three for 23, Ireland reached a competitive score of 142 for eight but an early assault of 34 in 17 balls from Karim Sadiq and then Shehzad's unbeaten 65 in 46 balls ensured that Afghanistan got home in the 18th over of a stunning run chase.
Ireland, who won the toss and chose to bat, made a good start, William Porterfield making 20 and both Niall O'Brien and Alex Cusack hitting 28 before Afghanistan began to take wickets and get back into the game.
Kevin O'Brien (2), Gary Wilson (5), and John Mooney (5) were all dismissed cheaply and despite swift innings of 14 from Nigel Jones and 15 in 12 balls from Trent Johnston, Ireland were held to 142.
Sadiq then thumped four fours and a six, taking the game to Ireland's opening bowlers, Johnston and Peter Connell while Noor Ali kept things steady with 16 in 24 balls.
Johnston eventually had Sadiq dismissed when he was caught by Andrew White while Ali was dismissed when he was trapped in front by Kevin O'Brien.
However, that simply set the scene for Shehzad to blaze away, smashing six fours and a six as Afghanistan quickly reduced their required run rate to a figure around six while Mangal was there at the end, unbeaten on 21 in 18 balls, as Afghanistan completed the tournament as they started it, with a win over Ireland.
The ICC World Twenty20 gets underway on 30th April.
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