Afghanistan beat Ireland, qualify for ICC World Cup

Afghanistan lost three opening qualifying games and irritated the odds to beat Ireland by five wickets on Friday so that the team becomes certified for next year's Cricket World cup.

After the host Zimbabwe's heart-breaking lost against United Arab Emirates on Thursday, the equation was simple for these two sides (Afghanistan and Ireland) is to win, and a place at next year's finals in England and Wales would be secure.

In the chase, Mohammad Shahzad (54) dominated the proceedings while Gulbadin Naib (45) was steady as Afghanistan reached 53 for naught in the first powerplay. Skipper Asghar Stanikzai, who returned to the squad after a surgery, played a heroic knock (39 off 29 balls) to guide his side to a win.

Opener Paul Stirling top scored with 55 before he was run out while Kevin O'Brien contributed 41 batting at number six.

And so it proved as Shahzad made the most of a reprieve after Barry McCarthy put down a tough caught-and-bowled chance when the batsman was on five, going on to strike six fours and two maximums.

Scotland, on the other hand, only have three scheduled games this summer - a one-day global against England and two T20s against Pakistan - after their narrow defeat to West Indies in their rain-affected final qualifier. We had some key moments but we could not take them.

It was a long way away, though, when Afghanistan lost its first three games in the tourney. In this situation, Ireland's net run-rate will drop behind Zimbabwe.

The second lifeline was Zimbabwe's stunning loss to the UAE, which left the victor of the Afghanistan-Ireland game with a clear path to the Cricket World Cup. However, he feels the other Associates, like Scotland, will have a tough time in progressing after having been excluded from the 10-team tournament. "We want to dedicate this to all the people back home who supported us".

Earlier, two-time World champions West Indies have already qualified for the 2019 edition as the top team. It was not just the dream of us the team, it was the dream of Afghanistan. They defeated Ireland by five wickets in the close encounter which went down the wire.

That means Ireland, a Test-playing nation ranked No11 in the world will not be able to participate - despite a rich history in the tournament. I feel sorry for the likes of Scotland.


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