Ireland Thump Afghanistan To Win Qualifier
Ireland thrashed Afghanistan by 68 runs to win the ICC World Twenty 2014 Qualifier to follow up winning the same competition in 2010 and 2012 after Nepal beat the United Arab Emirates to finish third.
Ireland will now play in Group B of the first stage of the ICC World Twenty20 next year, battling with Zimbabwe, UAE and the Netherlands while Afghanistan are in Group A with hosts Bangladesh, Nepal and Hong Kong.
Having won this tournament by beating Afghanistan in both 2010 and 2012, Ireland produced a repeat performance to add to their World Cricket League Championship earlier this year and with the ICC Intercontinental Cup final to come, they remain on course for a treble of 2013 titles.
Batting first, they smashed 225 for seven and although Afghanistan gave game chase, they finished well short when they were bowled out for 157.
Paul Stirling hammered 76 in 43 balls and Trent Johnston marked his final international match with his first Twenty20 International half-century, blasting 62 in 32 balls including 20 runs in one over.
Ireland had reached 82 inside the batting Power Play and although they couldn't keep that sort of run-getting going, they made the fourth highest total in Twenty20 International history.
Dot balls were sparse and no Afghan bowler conceded less than nine runs per over; Ireland rattling up a run-rate of 11.25 for their innings.
It was going to take something remarkable for Afghanistan to hit back and they started strongly with Mohammad Shahzad (38 in 18 balls), Nawroz Mangal (14 in 10) and Merwais Ashraf (22 in 17) doing their part but eventually, Ireland took control.
George Dockrell removed the openers and Alex Cusack dismissed Mohammad Nabi (6) and Karim Sadiq (0) with consecutive balls to reduce them to 76 for four in seven overs.
Gulbodin Naib attempted to keep Afghanistan in the game by hammering 43 in 19 balls but Johnston finally ended their charge with the wickets of Naib, Samiullah Shenwari (5) and Najibullah Zadran (4) in quick succession.
He finished with three for 34 and Tim Murtagh (2-24) finished things off definitely when he bowled Dawlat Zadran for eight and Shapoor Zadran for 13.
In the earlier match Nepal beat the United Arab Emirates by five wickets to finish in third place.
Plenty of UAE players made starts as they posted 131 for five with Abdul Shakoor top scoring with 28 at the top of the order.
Basant Regmi took four for 16 and Nepal then reached their target to win with four balls to spare.
Subash Khakurel led the way with 38 in 46 balls before Sharad Vesawkar's unbeaten 43 in 29 balls, as well as Anil Mandal hitting 13 in eight balls, got them home.
© Cricket World 2013
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