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World Twenty20 on the horizon for Irish Women

By Ian Callender

Ireland are one match away from the Women's World Twenty20 after completing the group section of the qualifying tournament with a third successive win.

Another excellent bowling performance saw off the challenge of Zimbabwe, bowled out in 19 overs for 78, and Ireland knocked off the runs for the loss of three wickets with almost five overs to spare to finish top of the group.

Ireland are now favourites to join the men's squad in the finals in India in March, with victory in the semi-final against Scotland tomorrow morning in Bangkok enough to guarantee them their place in the 10-team finals.

Isobel Joyce was the player of the match yesterday, with figures of four for 20 in her four overs before, fittingly, she hit the winning run after replacing her sister Cecilia who scored a run-a-ball 36.

It had needed the introduction of Joyce into the attack in the ninth over to make the breakthrough after an opening stand of 31, but it went downhill fast for the Zimbabweans as the Ireland skipper took a wicket in each of her first three overs to reduce the Test nation to 51 for four.

The fifth wicket was delayed another three overs but the last six fell in the space of 21 balls for the addition of just 14 runs.

A target of four runs an over was never going to be a challenge and although Clare Shillington enjoyed a 'life' on seven, to a return catch, the Belfast-born player hit 22 in a first wicket stand of 48 with Cecilia Joyce.

Kim Garth then gave her wicket away in a run-out but even then Ireland were already looking forward to facing the Scots, whom they defeated in a warm-up 10 days ago by 27 runs.

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