Ireland retain ICC World Twenty20 qualifier crown

The defending champions lifted the trophy for the third time in four appearances after posting the fourth highest T20I total, 225/7, and then dismissing Afghanistan for 157 in 18.5 overs Friday. Ireland shared the trophy with the Netherlands in 2008 and won it in 2012 by defeating Afghanistan in the final.

Former captain Trent Johnston was the star for Ireland. He smashed a career-best 32-ball 62 (five fours and four sixes) and then returned with figures of 3/34 to walk away with the Man of the Match award.

Opener Paul Stirling was also in punishing mood, clobbering eight fours and two sixes in a 43-ball 76 to help Ireland record the highest total of the tournament.

Stirling and Johnston put on 64 runs for the third wicket in just over five overs after the former put on 68 for the first wicket with captain William Porterfield (27) and another 36 for the second wicket with Kevin O’Brien (20). Hamza Hotak was the pick of the Afghanistan bowlers, claiming 3/39.

Afghanistan started their chase explosively with Mohammad Shahzad hitting eight boundaries and one six in a rapid 38 and Gulbodin Naib scoring a quick-fire 19-ball 43. However, once Naib was dismissed, their batting faltered and the side lost its last four wickets for 28 runs to be bowled out in the penultimate over.

“It was a pretty convincing performance. We needed to get a good start with the bat after having won the toss and we managed to do that. We got good runs in the powerplay and kept our run-rate high right from the start which allowed batsmen coming later to play their game," said Porterfield.

“It was one of the goals we had set for ourselves when we came here: to win the tournament. We wanted to get to the final and obviously qualify along the way and winning the trophy for the third time is a great feat for us, so it’s great ticking all the boxes.”

Afghanistan’s Samiullah Shenwari was declared Player of the Tournament for being the second highest wicket taker of the tournament, one of only four players to claim a five-for (5/13) and picking up three Man of the Match awards.

In the third/fourth place playoff earlier in the day, Nepal recorded a last-gasp victory over the United Arab Emirates. Chasing 132, Nepal achieved the target with four balls to spare.

Brief scores:
131/5 in 20 overs (Abdul Shakoor 28, Rohan Mustafa 24, Shaiman Anwar 24; Basant Regmi 4/16) lost to Nepal 133/5 in 19.2 overs (Sharad Vesawkar 43 not out, Subash Khakurel 38; Kamran Shahzad 2/22).

Ireland 225-7 in 20 overs (Paul Stirling 76, Trent Johnston 62, William Porterfield 27; Hamza Hotak 3/39, Shapoor Zadran 2/36) beat Afghanistan 157 all out in 18.5 overs (Gulbodin Naib 43, Mohammad Shahzad 38, Merwais Ashraf 22; Trent Johnston 3/34, Alex Cusack 2/18, Tim Murtagh 2/24).

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