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Stirling, Johnson take Ireland to the top

Victory by 68 runs over Afghanistan reinforces the reputation of the Irish

Stirling, Johnson take Ireland to the top - Cricket News
Ireland wins ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier.
Ireland capped off its ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier campaign with an emphatic 68-run win over Afghanistan in the final at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday (November 30).
 
Ireland clearly reserved its best for the last, scoring the tournament's highest total – 225 for 7 in 20 overs - before bowling Afghanistan out for 157 to end up being the only unbeaten side in the competition. It was not only the highest total in the tournament, but also the fourth highest score in all T20 internationals.
 
Ireland justified its decision to bat as William Porterfield (27) and Paul Stirling got the side off to an explosive start, putting up 68 off just 33 balls to set the tone for the run fest. Hamza Hotak briefly slowed the pace of the contest, but Trent Johnston continued the onslaught with a 64-run third-wicket stand with Sitrling off just 32 balls in the middle overs.
 
Johnston, who made a quickfire 18-ball 35 in the semifinal, and Stirling were relentless in attack. Stirling, who top scored with 73 off 46 balls, smashed 8 fours and 4 sixes in his knock, while Johnston wasn't left too far behind. His 32-ball 62 eventually made the difference to the team's total. It happened to be the first time an associate nation had crossed the 200-run mark in a T20 match.
 
Afghanistan was chasing history, but the prospect of achieving the highest run-chase of the tournament seemed to take its toll. Mohammad Shahzad smashed a six off Max Sorensen off the first ball of the innings in a 14-run first over. But the opening blitz didn't last long as George Dockrell, the left-arm spinner, dismissed Nawroz Mangal for 14 in the fourth over.
 
Shahzad and Mirwais Ashraf continued with the onslaught but Alex Cusack picked up two wickets off successive deliveries as Afghanistan slipped to 76 for 4. Gulbadin Naib kept the fight going with a resourceful 43 off 19 balls, but wickets tumbled rapidly at the other end as Afghanistan eventually folded in 18.5 overs.

Trent Johnston was named Man of the Match for his allround effort, which included a half-century, three wickets and a maiden, while Afghanistan’s Samiullah Shenwari was named Man of the Series.

ICC World Twenty20 2014 groups for qualifying round:
Group A: Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and Hong Kong
Group B: Zimbabwe, Ireland, UAE and Netherlands.

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