Afghanistan have sealed World Cup spot with a five-wicket victory over Ireland in the last match of the Super Sixes at World Cup qualifier at Harare Sports Club, Harare. It will be Afghanistan’s second-ever World Cup next year in England and Wales.
Ireland posted 209/7 in 50 overs after electing to bat first. Openers William Porterfield and Paul Stirling gave the Irish a good start with a 53-run partnership. Ireland’s run-scoring was slower than it should had been.
Stirling played his part with 55 runs off 87 balls including 3 fours and a six. Niall O’Brien made 41-ball 36 while his brother Kevin hit 41 off 37. Afghanistan bowlers did not let Ireland to post a big total.
Rashid Khan scalped three wickets for 40 runs. Dawlat Zadran took two for 49.
In reply, Mohammad Shahzad gave Afghanistan a flying start. He put on 86-run opening stand with Gulbadin Naib. Shahzad slammed 54 runs from 50 deliveries including 6 fours and 2 sixes. Gulbadin anchored the innings with his 91-ball 45.
The asking rate went up as Irish bowlerd restricted Afghan batsmen from easy runs. Samiullah Shenwari’s 27 from 63 put Afghanistan in further trouble. Star all-rounder Mohammad Nabi could not do much either.
Skipper Asghar Stanikzai played a heroic role to take his country to the World Cup. He and Najibullah Zadran took Afghanistan to a win with five balls remaining as Stanikzai inside-edged Barry McCarthy for a boundary in the last over.
Unfit Stanikzai scored unbeaten 39* runs off 29 balls hitting 4 fours and a six. For Ireland, Simi Singh was their leading bowler with 3/30.
Afghanistan will take on Windies in the Final on Sunday (March 25).
— ICC (@ICC) March 23, 2018
Ireland 209/7 in 50 overs (Stirling 55, K O’Brien 41; Rashid 3/40, Dawlat 2/49)
Afghanistan 213/5 in 49.1 overs (Shahzad 54, Stanikzai 39*; Simi 3/30, Rankin 1/41)
Afghanistan won by 5 wickets
Man of the Match: Mohammad Shahzad
-Ruffin, Correspondent, bdcrictime.com