Ireland beat Afghanistan to clinch top seeding

A stunning performance from Paul Stirling helped propel Ireland to a five-wicket victory over Afghanistan in the ICC World Twenty20 qualifying tournament.

Image: ©INPHO/ICC/Barry Chambers

THIS MORNING’S VICTORY over Namibia guaranteed Phil Simmons’s men a place at the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka this September, but left unresolved the questions of tournament seeding and Ireland’s status relevent to qualification rivals Afghanistan.

Now, several hours and one five-wicket victory later, the Irish team can rest safe in the knowledge they’ll attend the World Cup as the undisputed champions of international cricket’s second tier.

Capitalising on impressive performances from Max Sorensen, joined this time in taking a brace of wickets by Kevin O’Brien, and some muscular hitting from Paul Sterling (79 runs from 38 balls), Ireland succeeded in limiting their opponents’ ability to either build momentum at the crease or frustrate the Irish batting order.

Though a loss to Afghanistan would have carried with it consolation in the form of a highly-charged group stage encounter with England this September, Ireland now enter the World Cup with a statistically favourable draw -  as members of Group B, they’ll face Australia and the West Indies in the preliminary stages – and the additional confidence that comes with a tournament victory.

Afghanistan 152/7 (20/20 ov)

Ireland 156/5 (18.5/20 ov)

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