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Match Reports,07 July 2015

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All-round Stirling helps Ireland seal berth in Bangladesh

Opening batsman scores 77, before taking 4 for 10 to help Ireland qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 2014 in Bangladesh

All-round Stirling helps Ireland seal berth in Bangladesh - Cricket News
Paul Stirling scored 77 before taking 4 for 10.
Helped by Paul Stirling’s all-round effort, Ireland kept its unbeaten record in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier intact, crushing Hong Kong by 85 runs in a Group A encounter at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday (November 24). By virtue of this win, Ireland has now qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next year.

Electing to bat first, Ireland got off to a brilliant start, with William Porterfield, the captain, and Stirling, putting on a 91-run stand off 61 balls. After Porterfield, who scored 38 off 30 balls, was caught off Nizakat Khan, the leg-break bowler, Stirling added 43 for the second wicket with Kevin O’Brien. Nizakat struck for a second time in the 15th over, as Stirling departed for 77 off 46 balls, having hit nine fours and three sixes. O’Brien, with some assistance from Gary Wilson, who played a cameo of 19 off nine balls, finished the innings well, helping Ireland to a massive 207 for 4. He remained unbeaten on 62 off just 27 balls, hitting three fours and sending five hits over the fence. 

Nizakat was Hong Kong’s best bowler, giving away just 26 runs off his four overs. 

Hong Kong never looked like getting to the target. But for a 61-run stand for the second wicket between Waqas Barkat (16) and Jamie Atkinson (48), the Hong Kong captain, there was a lack of any significant partnership in the innings, as Hong Kong eventually folded for 122 in 17.1 overs. 

Stirling was impressive with the ball as well, as he finished with figures of 4 for 10 off his four overs and was declared the Man of the Match. Stirling's figures were the second-best in T20 cricket for Ireland , after Boyd Rankin's 4 for 9 against Uganda last year. He was supported well by George Dockrell, who took 2 for 18 off his quota.

Phil Simmons, the Ireland coach, was delighted at his team’s qualification. “It feels great, it’s another world tournament we go to, it is another match we played as best as we could," he said. "So it’s great to have qualified directly and not have to fight in another stage with other teams to qualify.” 

When asked if Ireland felt any pressure going into the match, Simmons said that the pressure was always going to be on Hong Kong as it lacked enough experience playing at this level. 

“It depends upon whom we are playing against," said Simmons. "If we would have been playing Afghanistan, it might have played in our mind as they are as tough as we are. Hong Kong has played well in this series but they have not played long enough at this level. So the pressure was going to show on them at some point of time, so we made sure we were doing all the right things and the pressure told on them after a while.”

Ireland finished the group stage as toppers of Group A, with 13 points from its seven games. It has now progressed to the semi-finals and will take on winner of the Netherlands-UAE match, which takes place on Wednesday (November 27).

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