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Afghanistan and Ireland record thrilling victories in ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers

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Ireland and Afghanistan were stretched to the limits by their respective opponents before seizing victory on the third day of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2013 (WT20Q) on Sunday.

Ireland showed nerves of steel to beat the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by five runs at Abu Dhabi Oval 2 after the home side had needed nine runs from the final seven deliveries with four wickets standing, while Afghanistan beat Papua New Guinea (PNG) by six wickets by the Duckworth-Lewis method, needing four runs for victory in the last over and securing victory on the last delivery with a boundary coming off byes.

In the other two matches of the day, Namibia recorded its first victory when it defeated the United States of America (USA) by 35 runs at Abu Dhabi Oval 1, and the Netherlands notched up its second win when it registered a comfortable eight wickets victory over Bermuda.

In the feature match at Abu Dhabi Oval 2, Kevin O’Brien (47) and Gary Wilson (53 not out) put on 92 runs for the fourth wicket in under 13 overs to guide defending champion Ireland to 138 for five in windy and sandy conditions.

Trent Johnston then brought all his experience to play and conceded only two runs in the final over of the match as the home side was bowled out for 133 with one ball to spare, after requiring nine runs off the last over and losing three wickets in six balls.

O’Brien was declared man of the match for his run-a-ball 47, which included two fours and a six. This was Ireland’s third successive victory in three outings in the tournament.

At Sharjah Cricket Stadium, openers Assad Vala (28) and Tony Ura (56, 49 balls, 5x4, 2x6) put on 76 runs in just under 11 overs and former England international Geraint Jones clubbed five fours in a brisk nine-ball 24 as PNG collected 167 for six in 20 overs.

Before Afghanistan could start its reply, rain came down in force, and, when the ground was declared fit, Afghanistan’s target was revised to 69 in seven overs.

The Asian side batted well to reach 65 for three after six overs before Charles Amini made the match interesting, having Samiullah Shenwari stumped on the penultimate ball with top scorer and captain Mohammad Nabi (36 not out) standing at the non-striker’s end. However, a boundary off byes sealed the match in Afghanistan’s favour and gave the former champion its second successive victory in the competition.

With the bat, the day’s star performers were Netherlands’ Stephan Myburgh (78 not out), PNG’s Tony Ura (56) and Gary Wilson (53 not out), while bowling honours went to Afghanistan’s Samiullah Shenwari (three for 23), Netherlands’ Ahsan Malik (two for two for 15), USA’s Bernard Scholtz (two for 18) and Ireland’s Max Sorensen (two for 17).