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Afghanistan beat Ireland, qualify for ICC World Cup

27 March 2018

There were some surprises and slip-ups, however, and after Scotland defeated Afghanistan by seven wickets, Hong Kong topped Afghanistan by the Duckworth/Lewis method, Scotland had tied with Zimbabwe, Afghanistan defeated the West Indies, the United Arab Emirates sinking Zimbabwe, and Afghanistan maintaining their dominance over Ireland, the West Indies were, probably, left to thank their lucky stars for reaching the final.

Afghanistan let the spinners puppet their middle-order to a stage where they now needed 43 to win off the final six overs.

It is a spectacular reversal of fortunes for Afghanistan. The Afghans looked out going out of the tournament in the league round itself but the results going favour and a winning streak saw them making it to the 2019 World Cup along the Caribbean team.

Sunday's victor will join Sri Lanka (1979), Zimbabwe (1982, 1986 and 1990), United Arab Emirates (1994), Bangladesh (1997), Netherlands (2001), Scotland (2005 and 2014) and Ireland (2009) to lift the silverware of one of the most competitive and keenly-contested tournaments on the cricket calendar.

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"First of all, congratulations to Afghanistan", he said.

Meanwhile, West Indies swashbuckling batsman Chris Gayle said Sunday's match will be his final appearance in Zimbabwe and he wanted to finish on a high. "Afghanistan is famous for coming back; after losing three games at the start we came back", Stanikzai said after the match.

Looking ahead to the final, West Indies skipper Jason Holder said, "Obviously, it's a good opportunity to win the tournament".

"But how there's only two teams going to a competition that's played every 208 weeks and you've got a six-week competition, to just play it so two or three big teams can play nine games on TV so the ICC can cash in with a big cheque, and a lot of teams are leaving here with nothing in their pocket."

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Mohammad Shahzad top-scored for the winners with 84, earning Man of the Match.

The second lifeline was Zimbabwe's stunning loss to the UAE, which left the victor of the Afghanistan-Ireland game with a clear path to the Cricket World Cup.

"I didn't watch the game but when it (defeat) happened I knew we were on a good thing and it's ours". We had some key moments but we could not take them.

"This is nothing but a miracle that we have won this tournament", added Stanikzai, whose team will also play their maiden Test match against India in Bangalore in June.

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William Porterfield (20) and Paul Stirling (55) provided a solid 53-run opening stand that came off 92 deliveries. He took three wickets for 40 in his 10 overs.

Afghanistan beat Ireland, qualify for ICC World Cup