ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, CMC — Group champions Afghanistan and Ireland will meet in today’s final of the ICC World Cup Twenty20 qualifying tournament here after cruising through their semi-finals.
Group B winners Afghanistan thrashed Nepal by seven wickets with 34 balls remaining, while Group A winners Ireland hammered hosts United Arab Emirates by 62 runs.
Afghanistan and Ireland will be accompanied by UAE, Nepal, Hong Kong and the Netherlands in next year’s World Cup proper in Bangladesh.
The top six teams out of 16 who competed in the qualifiers will join the 10 full ICC members for the fifth edition of the World Twenty20, to be staged from March 16 to April 6.
In yesterday’s first semi-final, Afghanistan’s bowlers proved too experienced as they swept to victory after restricting Nepal to a modest 90-8, in which Sharad Vesawkar topscored with an unbeaten 27. Samiullah Shenwari was the pick of the Afghan attack with 3-19.
In reply, Afghanistan lost two early wickets and number three Noor Ali Zadran was forced to retire hurt on one but a brisk 48 from Nawroz Mangal carried his side to the verge of victory which was sealed when Gulbadin Naib won the match with a six.
Ireland’s seamers proved too strong for UAE in the second semi-final.
Max Sorensen and Tim Murtagh picked up eight wickets between them in UAE’s 85 all out from 17.4 overs, Sorensen snapping up 4-15 and Murtagh’s 4-24 helping to clean up the tail.