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We've qualified, now let's clinch title: Wilson

 

Barry McCarthy
Barry McCarthy

By Ian Callender

Ireland are back on the global stage after the unpredictable results at the T20 World Cup qualifying tournament continued until the end of the group games.

Jersey's surprise victory over Oman in the penultimate Group B game was enough to keep Ireland top of Group B, after their speedy eight-wicket win over Nigeria on Saturday, and even before they play their next match in Dubai they have confirmed their place at the finals in Australia next October.

Having missed out on this year's ICC World Cup in England, Ireland will continue their run of appearances at the T20 World Cup, which dates back to 2009, but captain Gary Wilson was still insisting last night that the main objective this week is to win the qualifying tournament.

"We did our job in the last two games, put the pressure back on Oman to get a result and, fortunately, Jersey did us a favour," said Wilson.

"It's great that we can look forward to another World Cup but nothing has changed. I said at the start of the tournament the objective was not just to qualify but to win it and we will do that if we play our best cricket on Friday and Saturday."

By winning the group, on a superior run-rate - thanks to their quick wins in the final two games - from Oman and hosts UAE who also won four of their six games, they miss out on potentially tricky play-off matches tomorrow and Wednesday and can enjoy a five-day break from action, with their semi-final not taking place until Friday afternoon (10.10am GMT).

Canada, who defeated Ireland in their group game, are one of six teams on their way home after UAE beat them in the final match of the first week last night by 14 runs and it let Trent Johnston's Hong Kong into Wednesday's eliminator clash against the losers of the Namibia-Oman play-off battle tomorrow.

Scotland also scraped into the other eliminator match by finishing fourth in Group A despite losing their final group game to Netherlands yesterday by four wickets.

The Dutch had a chance of securing first place in the group if they had repeated their fast-scoring exploits against Ireland at the 2014 World T20 but a couple of quick wickets left them happy to settle for the win with three overs to spare.

That left Papua New Guinea as the surprise winners of Group A and they will play in the second semi-final on Friday.

Ireland will have a new player in the squad this week and available for selection. Barry McCarthy, who hasn't played a T20 international since June last year, arrived in Abu Dhabi last night as replacement for David Delany, who headed in the opposite direction after scans on his left knee confirmed the 21-year-old speedster has a torn meniscus, sustained after diving for a ball in the game against Jersey on Friday.

Delany managed to bowl 15 deliveries before the injury worsened - he also took two wickets - and he had to leave the field, and now the tournament, a devastating blow for Ireland's fastest bowler who was playing only his eighth international.

Saturday's scores: Nigeria 66-9 (C Young 4-13, M Adair 2-10, G Dockrell 1-16, G Delany 1-17) Ireland 67-2 (6.1 overs, K O'Brien 32). Ireland won by eight wickets.

This week's fixtures: Tomorrow: Netherlands v UAE (10.10am), Namibia v Oman (3.30pm). Wednesday: Scotland v loser of Netherlands v UAE, Hong Kong v loser of Namibia v Oman.

Thursday: Fifth-sixth place play-off.

Friday: Ireland v TBC (10.10am), Papua New Guinea v TBC (3.30pm).

Saturday: Third-fourth place play-off (10.10am), Final (3.30pm).

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