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Afghans, Ireland in World Twenty20

Ireland and Afghanistan justified their heavyweight tags entering the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 directly as the group winners. While Ireland are into their fourth appearance of the showpiece of shorter version cricket, Afghanistan have qualified for third consecutive time.


In their final group stage match today, Afghanistan defeated Kenya by 34 runs for their sixth victory in seven matches. Afghanistan topped Group ‘B’ with 12 points. An Afghan loss could have opened chances for the Netherlands with run rate playing a crucial role. Both team could have tied for 10 points each. 


Afghanistan managed 148-9 in Sharjah where Noor Ali Zadran’s 50 off 48 and Najibullah Zadran’s 33 off 25 played a crucial role. Kenya, in their chase, were spun out by Samiullah Shenwari who recorded his Twenty International (T20I) best figures of 4-13 as the African side was bowled out for 114 with 10 balls to spare. 


Rakep Patel was the only batsman to offer any resistance when he scored 52 off 38 balls with two fours and three sixes, while Steve Tikolo was the other batsman to reach the 20-mark when he slapped five fours in a 20-ball 25.


At the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Ireland crushed Hong Kong by 85 runs. Paul Stirling was in devastating form in Ireland’s total of 207-4 when he smashed a 46-ball 77 with five fours and a six and then returned figures of 4-0-10-4 to help Ireland collect their 17th consecutive victory in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. Ireland had last lost in this competition on 13 March 2012 when they were defeated by Namibia by four runs. 


Electing to bat first, Stirling and William Porterfield (38) put on 91 runs for the first wicket, while for the fourth wicket Kevin O’Brien (62 off 27 balls with three fours and five sixes) and Gary Wilson (19) added 39 runs for the fourth wicket in almost two overs.


Ireland scored 70 runs off the last five overs, including 24 off the final over in which O’Brien clobbered three sixes and a four off Munir Dar who finished with figures of 1-49. Hong Kong made a brisk start and reached 92-2 in the 10th over before Stirling got his acts together and broke the batting side’s back by claiming the wickets of Jamie Atkinson (48), Nizakat Khan (13), Mark Chapman (one) and Tanwir Afzal (two) as Hong Kong were bowled out for 122 in 17.1 overs with the last eight wickets falling for 30 runs in just over seven overs.


Stirling was well supported by left-arm spinner George Dockrell who picked up the scalps of Munir Dar (seven) and Aizaz Khan (six).


While Ireland and Afghanistan will wait for their semi-final opponents, Hong Kong will play Nepal and UAE will play the Netherlands with the winners reach the World Twenty20 and semi-final of the tournament. The losers will join second round of playoff where they will meet the winners between Namibia versus Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Italy versus Uganda matches.

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