Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Stirling shines again

Paul Stirling

Paul Stirling's brutal innings of 79 led Ireland to a five-wicket win over Afghanistan with seven balls to spare in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in Dubai.

Stirling's knock, which included three sixes and nine fours and came off just 38 balls, helped his side to 156 for five in reply to their opponents' 152 for seven.

The Irish had already booked their place at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka this September, beating Namibia by nine wickets earlier on Saturday on the back of another Stirling half-century.

The match against Afghanistan was to determine which group they would play in and Kevin O'Brien and Max Sorensen both took two wickets in a strong bowling display.

Ireland's reply got off to the worst possible start when William Porterfield was bowled by a first-ball yorker from Zadran Dawlat but, after Ed Joyce went for 11, Stirling and Gary Wilson (32) put on 80 for the third wicket before Stirling was caught at at deep square leg by Gulbodin Naib off Dawlat.

O'Brien went next ball for Ireland's second duck of the innings, but Andrew Poynter's 23 off 17 saw them home.

Earlier, after openers Karim Sadiq (16) and Javed Ahmadi (six) had been sent packing, number three Mohammad Shehzad gave Afghanistan hope of posting a competitive total with 77 off 57 balls.

O'Brien and Sorensen removed three of his partners before Naib joined him at the crease

Sorensen ended Shehzad's impressive stand in the 19th over, but Naib finished with an unbeaten 17 off eight, including two sixes.

In the day's first game, Ireland barely needed half their overs as Stirling hit an unbeaten 59 off 32 balls to ensure Ireland cruised to victory over Namibia.

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