Afghanistan v Ireland - ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier – Final Match Update
Afghanistan 152/7 (20/20 ov) v Ireland 156/5 (18.5/20 ov) - Ireland won by 5 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)
On Saturday, March 24, 2012, Ireland won the final of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 Qualifier after beating Afghanistan in a thriller by five wickets with seven deliveries remaining as they successfully chased a target of 153 runs, at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
With just one loss in the tournament, Ireland were up against favourites Afghanistan, who had won all their games before roaring into the final of the mega event.
Nonetheless, Ireland who have more experience in international cricket, were certainly not written off as they had all the ingredients to give Afghanistan a rough time.
Afghanistan chose to bat first after they won the toss, and with seven wins under their belt, the side aimed to bolster a daunting total on the board to subdue their opponents.
However, Afghanistan openers Karim Sadiq and Javed Ahmadi failed to give their side a flying start as they could only muster a partnership of 18 runs before Ireland bowler Boyd Rankin dismissed Sadiq, who scored 16 runs off 10 deliveries.
Then with 27 runs on the board, the side lost their second wicket when Ahmadi fell after knocking a cameo innings of six runs off five deliveries.
Wicketkeeper/batsman, Mohammad Shahzad, who came at number-three then smashed a resilient knock of 77 runs off 57 deliveries as he kept the scoreboard ticking while wickets on the other end kept falling.
It was this staggering innings from the middle-order batsman that helped Afghanistan amass 152 runs in 20 overs for the loss of seven wickets.
With a decent total to chase, Ireland suffered a terrible start to their innings when they lost their opener William Porterfield before registering a run on the board.
However, after the fall of the first wicket, Ireland grabbed hold of the situation and launched a steady run chase with opener Paul Stirling taking the sting out of the Afghan bowling attack as the batsman smashed a match winning innings of 79 runs backed by Gary Wilson, who hammered 32. And later it was an unbeaten knock of 23 runs by Andrew Poynter that steered the Irish side home.
Stirling was named as the Player of the Match for his impressive contribution with the bat.