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Shillington's experience key as Ireland girls eye T20 finals

By Ian Callender

Ireland's Women are just one win away from joining the men at next year's World Twenty20 finals after two comfortable wins in Thailand.

The squad will complete their group matches this morning against Zimbabwe with their place in the last four of the qualifying tournament already confirmed after victories over the Netherlands and China at the weekend.

Clare Shillington, the only Northern Ireland-born player in the squad, scored 33 in an opening stand of 74 with Cecilia Joyce, younger sister of Ed, in the eight wickets win over the Dutch and captain Isobel Joyce was the star of their 28 runs win over emerging China. The twin sister of Cecilia, who was playing her 100th international, made 41 not out.

Shillington, who is a member of the Malahide club and after moving south has played all her cricket in Dublin, is the most experienced member of the squad, having made her debut as a 16-year-old in 1997. She is approaching 140 appearances for her country and if Ireland qualify for the finals in India in March it will be her fifth World Cup.

At the other end of the age scale, Lucy O'Reilly only turned 16 last month but at the weekend bowled her eight overs for just 26 runs and took two wickets.

Victory over Zimbabwe today would make Ireland's chances of qualifying much easier with a likely semi-final against Scotland as the prize for winning the group while defeat would almost certainly gave them a last four game against tournament favourites Bangladesh.

The two finalists automatically qualify to join the top eight ranked Full Members in the Finals and unlike the men's squad who must qualify for the later stages, the women are guaranteed five matches in the first round of the tournament proper.

England prevailed with a ball to spare in their first ever Twenty20 super-over to complete a 3-0 series whitewash against Pakistan, and take their winning streak to six matches.

A thrilling initial encounter finished in a tie at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, after Shoaib Malik's career-best 75 took the hosts to the brink of victory in pursuit of England's 154 for eight.

Then Chris Jordan conceded only three runs, allowing Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler to seal the deal in an over from the home captain.

Malik had transformed Pakistan's initial chase as he and Afridi delighted a large home crowd in a sixth-wicket stand of 66.

But defending 10 in the final over, Chris Woakes overcame being clubbed for six over long on by tailender Sohail Tanvir.

He then had Malik caught on the same boundary from what should have been the penultimate ball of the match, and a scrambled bye levelled the scores.

James Vince was starved of the strike but top-scored with 46.

David Willey took three for 36 in Pakistan's reply.

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