Cricket Ireland/Twitter Kevin O'Brien top-scored for Ireland.
# hit for six
Ireland find their groove at the right time to coast through to desert semi-finals
John Bracewell’s side are finding their form after a sluggish start to the year.

IT’S ALL COMING together rather nicely for Ireland in the desert as they booked their place in the last four of this season-opening Twenty20 tournament with the sort of performance we’ve come to expect from them.

After opening their campaign with a disappointing defeat to Afghanistan on Saturday, John Bracewell’s side have now bounced back with victories over Namibia and United Arab Emirates.

Tuesday’s win — their first in nearly a year in this format — was less than convincing but this morning’s 24-run victory over UAE at the Dubai International Stadium gives grounds for optimism.

After failing to hit a six in the opening two games, Ireland bludgeoned eight against the home nation as the batsman finally came to the party with the sort of innings required in Twenty20 cricket.

Kevin O’Brien top-scored with a quickfire 40 from 27 balls and cleared the ropes three times with Paul Stirling (39) and Gary Wilson (26) both continuing their decent form.

Ireland’s total of 160 for six proved too much for UAE, who were dismantled early on by the returning Boyd Rankin during a hostile opening spell.

The Warwickshire bowled finished with figures of 3-16 as the Emiratis struggled to 136 for seven in reply as Ireland booked their place in the last four.

It was a much more polished display from Willian Porterfield’s charges and it appears, after a sluggish start, that they’re just beginning to dust off the winter cobwebs as the tournament enters the business end of proceedings.

“It was a very good all-round team performance today,” O’Brien said afterwards. “It’s always good to peak at right time in a tournament like this to follow up Tuesday’s win over Namibia.

“It’s just great to be back winning in this format. We at not the finished article yet, but good to be in a semi final on Friday.”

Bracewell’s men won’t discover the identity of their opponents until tomorrow with Netherlands, Scotland and Oman all still vying to progress through from the other group.

Ireland 160/6 (20 overs; K O’Brien 40, P Stirling 39, G Wilson 26, G Thompson 17, Amjad Javed 2-16, Zahoor Ahmed 2-27)

UAE 136/7 (20 overs; Amjad Javed 47*, Mohammed Naveed 25*, Mohammad Usman 24, B Rankin 3-16, J Mulder 2-20)

Ireland win by 24 runs

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