Afghanistan beat Ireland, qualify for ICC World Cup

NEW DELHI March 23, 2018: Afghanistan qualified for 2019 Cricket World Cup after beating Ireland on Friday at the Harare Sports Club, said media reports.

Ireland’s William Porterfield won the toss in the must-win game for both sides and opted to bat first. Porterfield along with Paul Stirling, who made a crucial fifty, gave a solid start to his team.

The skipper was dismissed in the 16th over with Ireland on 53. He was followed by Andrew Balbirnie (11) soon. Stirling then added 44 runs with Niall O Brien, who scored 36.

The Afghanistan spinners registered a terrific turnaround in middle overs after they dismissed Stirling in the 33rd over.

Ireland could only add 77 runs in the last 17 overs of their innings and a quickfire 41 off 37 balls from Kevin O Brien helped them reach 209/7 from 50 overs.

Leg-spinner Rashid Khan was Afghanistan’s top performer with the ball. He took three wickets for 40 in his 10 overs. Dawlat Zardan picked up two wickets while Mohammad Nabi got one.

In reply, openers Mohammad Shahzad and Gulbadin Naib gave their team a good start with an 86-run stand for the first wicket. Shahzad scored 54 off 50 deliveries while Naib hit 45 from 91 balls.

Irish bowlers did well to pull back the game after reducing their opposition to 145/4 at one stage but the sensible innings of 39 not out by skipper Asghar Stanikzai and Najibullah Zadran unbeaten 17 helped Afghanistan qualify for the World Cup, said the media reports.

“We qualify for the 2019 World Cup. It is a dream. Afghanistan is famous for coming back; after losing three games at the start we came back,” Stanikzai said after the match.

Shahzad was declared the Man of the Match for his valuable fifty, added the reports.