Afghanistan to play Ireland in the final in Dubai from 10-14 December
Defending champion Afghanistan defeated Kenya by eight wickets on the penultimate day of its four-day first-classICC Intercontinental Cup match at the ICC Academy, Dubai Sports City, on Tuesday.
It was the last league match of the tournament, with the final to be played between defending champion Afghanistan and three-time former champion Ireland in Dubai from 10 to14 December.
The victory meant Afghanistan won five of its seven league matches in the competition, which started in June 2011. It beat Canada (by nine wickets), Netherlands (by three wickets), Scotland (by an innings and five runs), Namibia (by 10 wickets) and Kenya (by eight wickets), and drew its encounters against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ireland.
Afghanistan had entered the match against Kenya in second position in the competition, and was guaranteed a spot in the final regardless of the outcome of the match.
In a low-scoring match dominated by the bowlers, Afghanistan bowlers Mohammad Yamin Ahmadzai and Sayed Shirzad returned match figures of 5-40 and 5-45 respectively to restrict Kenya to 162 and 140 in its two innings.
Despite fast bowler Ragheb Aga’s five for 46, Afghanistan took a crucial first innings lead of 72 thanks to a maiden first-class century by 20-year old Rahmat Shah (144), and then chased down the target of 68 for the loss of two wickets.
It was Afghanistan’s second win against Kenya from two meetings since making its debut in this competition in 2009-10.
Afghanistan will now face three-time champion Ireland in the tournament final, to be played at the ICC Academy, Dubai Sports City, from 10 to 14 December. The sides have met twice in this format to date, with Afghanistan leading 1-0 on head-to-head.
In the current tournament, Ireland hosted Afghanistan in July 2012 and the Asian side escaped with a draw, while Afghanistan won the sides’ maiden four-day encounter during the 2009-10 edition of the ICC Intercontinental Cup, winning by seven wickets at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium in Sri Lanka in January 2010.
Ireland has also recorded five victories in the tournament (Namibia by five wickets, Canada by an innings and 11 runs, Kenya by 10 runs, Netherlands by 279 runs and Scotland by an innings and 44 runs) and two draws (against Afghanistan and the UAE), and will be aiming to become the first country to complete a treble in a calendar year.
Ireland won the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship to become the first team to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and is the defending champion for the ICC World Twenty20 2013, to be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 15-30 November.
Scores in brief
Kenya – 162 (Nelson Odhiambo 35, Hiren Varaiya 35, Shem Ngoche 26; Mohammad Yamin Ahmadzai 2-23, Mohammad Nasim Baras 2-26, Sayed Shirzad 2-28, Izatullah Dawlatzai 2-46) and 140 (Hiren Varaiya 36, Collins Obuya 16; Sayed Shirzad 3-17, Mohammad Yamin Ahmadzai 3-17)
Afghanistan – 234 (Rahmat Shah 144, Mohammad Nasim Baras 32; Ragheb Aga 5-46, Collins Obuya 2-30) and 70 (Mohammad Javed Ahmadi 28, Rahmatullah Sahaq 23 not out; Nelson Odhiambo 1-9, Nehemiah Odhiambo 1-26)
Result – Afghanistan won by eight wickets
Umpires – Ruchira Palliyaguruge and Buddhi Pradhan
Match referee – Graeme Labrooy
10-14 Dec – Final; Afghanistan v Ireland, ICC Academy, Dubai Sports City
Intercontinental Cup points table (as on 8 October, after Afghanistan-Kenya match)
Teams Mat Won Lost Tie Draw Aban Pts
* Ireland and Afghanistan qualified for the final of the Intercontinental Cup before the final matches were played
For more information on the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2011-2013, please click here.