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Hosts Ireland and Scotland in T20 World Cup

Defending champion Ireland has benefited from an
unlikely set of results to finish on top of Group A, becoming the second side
to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 2016 after Scotland had sealed its place
yesterday.

 

Once they had beaten Jersey at Malahide in the
morning, captain William Porterfield and his side needed the high-flying Papua
New Guinea to lose to the USA at the same venue and Namibia to fall to Hong
Kong in Clontarf, in order to top the group. But given the form guide, no one
in the Ireland camp really thought that was going to happen and they were
already mentally preparing for the play-offs.

 

And when USA posted 147-6 in 20 overs, the feeling
around the ground was that it was slightly below par. But the Americans bowled
well up front taking the key wickets of Tony Ura and Lega Siaka for only eight
runs. That below-par target suddenly seemed a whole lot more formidable.

 

After that, PNG lost wickets at regular intervals and,
despite a late surge from Mahuru Dai, never regained the initiative, eventually
falling short by 18 runs.

 

Meanwhile, over in Clontarf, Irfan Ahmed smashed
Namibia’s bowlers with a brutal display of power hitting, rocketing to 98 off
just 55 balls, including nine fours and four sixes, as Hong Kong put up a
massive 197-8. Namibia’s openers, Gerrie Snyman and Stephen Baard, are no
strangers to a boundary or two themselves so when both fell with only 23 runs
on the board, it didn’t look good for the Africans. And so it proved as they were
all out for just 114.

 

All that played into Ireland’s hands and a delighted,
if a little surprised, Porterfield said: “It was always our goal to top the
group coming into the competition but this was not the way we wanted to go
about it because we lost two games along the way. But we’re top of the group
and we’re in the semi-final.

 

“Some of our performances have not been what we wanted
them to be. We talked about that in the build-up to today and we certainly
played better against Jersey. It’s not the way we thought we would top the
group but nonetheless we’ll take it. Our performance today, particularly with
the bat, was pretty good and we just have to keep building on that towards the
weekend.”

 

So, as well as knowing the first two qualifiers, Tuesday’s crucial
play-off fixtures have also been finalised. Hong Kong’s comprehensive victory
over Namibia means it finished second in Group A on net run-rate and will play
Group B’s third-placed team, Afghanistan, while Namibia will take on
Netherlands with both games taking place at Malahide.

 

PNG finished fourth in the group and will proceed to a
last-chance play-off on Thursday along with its Group B counterpart,
Oman. The teams to lose out in Group A are USA, Jersey and Nepal, joining Group
B’s UAE, Kenya and Canada on their respective planes home.

 

Earlier, a little bit of history was made in the final
over of Jersey’s innings as Ireland medium-pacer John Mooney took his country’s
first Twenty20 hat-trick and only the fourth for Ireland in all matches since
1855. After what had been a solid start from Jersey’s top three Peter Gough,
Edward Farley and Jonty Jenner, with the score on 88-1 there followed a
stunning collapse as Ireland’s bowlers turned up the heat and the Channel
Islanders lost their remaining nine wickets for 34 runs in less than seven
overs.

 

A half-century from Paul Stirling ensured Ireland
chased down the 123-run target with a minimum of fuss, losing just three
wickets along the way.

 

Afterwards, Jersey captain Peter Gough was clearly disappointed
with how the game went but was still proud of his team’s performance. He said:
“We will take loads of positives from this tournament – we have learned a huge
amount as a side. We’ve gained experience in how to play different types of
bowlers, different wickets, how to structure a Twenty20 innings. Every player
has gone through a real journey here. It doesn’t always come easy every day.
We’ve had to work really hard and the players have done a huge amount when we
haven’t been playing, which is fantastic.

 

“It has been the best cricketing experience of our
lives so far, unbelievable. It has been great to have quite a few spectators
here cheering us on. We’re so happy they came. To have 50-odd people here
cheering us on has been great. We hope we did them proud… We will go away and
put a lot of what we’ve learned here into practice. We will refocus and look to
keep pushing forward, always trying to improve.”

 

Today’s scores:

At Malahide: Jersey 122 all out, 19.5 overs (Peter Gough 42, Jonty Jenner 26;
Paul Stirling 3-16, John Mooney 3-20, Alex Cusack 3-26)

Ireland
123-3, 16.4 overs (Paul Stirling 55, Andrew Balbirnie 32 not out; Ben Stevens
2-20)

Ireland
won by seven wickets

 

At Malahide: USA 147-6, 20 overs (Nicholas Standford 38 not out, Akeem Dodson
38, Fahad Babar 30; Charles Amini 2-20)

PNG
129-9, 20 overs (Sese Bau 26; Muhammad Ghous 2-27, Timil Patel 2-32)

USA won
by 18 runs

 

At Castle Avenue: Hong Kong 197-8, 20 overs (Irfan Ahmed 98, Jamie Atkinson 28;
Gerrie Snyman 4-31)

Namibia
114 all out, 15.1 overs (Sarel Burger 28; Nadeem Ahmed 5-12, Haseeb Amjad 2-22)

Hong
Kong won by 83 runs

 

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