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Ireland retained the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier crown, its third title in four appearances, after it defeated Afghanistan by a whopping 68 runs on the back of career-best knocks by Paul Stirling (43-ball 76 with eight fours and two sixes) and Trent Johnston (32-ball 62 with five fours and four sixes). Needing 226 to win, Afghanistan was all out for 157 in 18.5 overs.
Johnston said it was team effort that made Ireland a strong team. “It’s great, it’s been a massive team effort, and I think that shows with our guys not winning player of the tournament – we’re not a one-man team. If someone fails, someone else steps up to the plate, and we’ve consistently done that throughout the past six-seven years. I think that’s the most pleasing thing out of the whole thing, it’s a hell of a team we’ve got in that dressing room.”
Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi remained philosophical about his side’s loss: “They played very well today, the wicket was very good for batting, and they did well and put up a very big total on the board so it was a bit of pressure for our boys. We started very well with the bat too in our first six overs but then we threw away our wickets early which put us under a lot of pressure.”
Afghanistan’s Samiullah Shenwari was declared Player of the Tournament. Samiullah was the second highest wicket taker of the tournament and one of only four players to claim a five-for (five for 13), picking up three Man of the Match awards during the tournament.
Ireland will join Zimbabwe in Group B of the first round of the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 while Afghanistan to face Bangladesh in tournament opener in Mirpur on 16 March.
In the third/fourth place play-off played earlier in the day, Nepal recorded a last-gasp victory over the United Arab Emirates to finish third in the tournament. Chasing 131 for victory, Nepal was always behind the required run-rate. Opener Subash Khakurel crafted a patient knock of 38, but it was an unbeaten 29-ball 43 by Sharad Vesawkar that led Nepal to victory. The 25-year-old struck two sixes in the last over to surpass the required total of 132 with four balls to spare.
Earlier, the UAE posted 131 from its 20 overs, with Abdul Shakoor (28) Rohan Mustafa (24), Shaiman Anwar (24) and Swapnil Patil (22 not out) the main contributors. Nepal’s Basant Regmi took the bowling honours for the day, claiming three of the first four wickets to finish with four for 16 runs.
Nepal skipper Paras Khadka was thrilled with the result. “It was an amazing finish for us and Sharad has been doing really well for us. Basant bowled well and actually the bowlers set it up really nicely for us. We are pretty happy as we came into the tournament as underdogs.”
However, Khadka said the team will go straight back to training in order to prepare for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014 and the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014.
“We have to work in all the areas. We are going to a higher level now; we will be playing against the best of the teams in the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. So we need to improve on all factors and believe in ourselves believe in our ability and move forward”
Six teams qualify. Ireland, Afghanistan and Netherlands gain ratings points.
In total, six teams have qualified from this event to the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014, an increase from two in 2012. The teams are Ireland, Afghanistan, Nepal, UAE, Hong Kong and Netherlands. Nepal and Hong Kong have made history by qualifying to their maiden global ICC event, while the Netherlands will reappear at the tournament after defeating England in the 2009 event and the UAE will be playing in its first global ICC event since the ICC Cricket World Cup 1996.
Ireland’s unbeaten run in the tournament has meant that it has continued to retain its pre-tournament ninth rank on the Reliance ICC T20I Team Rankings Table, following a gain of six ratings points to finish at 87. Afghanistan continues to be in 11th position but has gained three ratings points to end at 71. Netherlands’ has made the biggest upward move, as it jumped three places to 12th with a gain of 20 ratings points to finish with 56.
Scotland and Kenya, which did not qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014, have moved down on the Reliance ICC T20I Team Rankings Table. Scotland is now in 13th (down by one), while Kenya has moved down a place to 15th.
USA slides downward
USA finished at the bottom (eighth) in Group A and 15th overall in the 2013 World T20 Qualifier. In the 2012 edition, USA had finished 6th in its Group and 12th in final standings.
Photo: 2013 © IDI/Getty Images / Source : ICC