UAE and Ireland confirm big tickets to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia on Tuesday after reaching the final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier A, supported by Dream 11, at Al Amerat.
UAE stopped the three-match winning run of Nepal with a 68-run victory while Ireland beat Oman by 56 runs. At the Oman Academy ground 1, UAE exhibited a clinical performance to reach the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup for the second time. The last time UAE made it to the global showpiece event was in 2014. For Ireland, the only Full Member nation in Qualifier A, it will be their seventh appearance at the global showpiece event.
The two winning teams took the 13th and 14th spots for the tournament in Australia later this year, with the last two places to be decided at the Qualifier B in July.
Ireland ease to victory
Batting first after losing the toss, Ireland posted a total of 165/7. Gareth Delany top scored with a masterfully constructed 32-ball 47. Oman began the Powerplay well as Ireland’s usually reliable opening pair – Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie – failed them this time.
However, Delany and Harry Tector erected an 82-run fourth wicket stand to put the pressure back on the hosts. Tector was the aggressor early on, but once Delany settled in, fireworks ensued on both ends of the wicket. Skipper Zeeshan Maqsood in particular endured a difficult afternoon with the ball as Delany devoured his only over, smashing three consecutive sixes.
Bilal Khan had dismissed both the openers earlier and Kaleemullah matched his strike partner’s efforts by plotting Tector’s demise for a well-made 35. Lorcan Tucker followed suit in the very next ball, and with Khawar Ali sending Delany back in the following over, Oman had their tails up for the final stretch of the innings. With good reason too, as Ireland were placed precariously at 106/5 at the end of 14 overs. George Dockrell chipped in with a valuable 16-ball 18, but it was Andy Mcbrine that provided the fuel to take Ireland past 150. His quick-fire 36 included 3 fours and 2 sixes.
Bilal was Oman’s star performer with the ball, ending the day with figures of 3/23. In response, Oman were bowled out for 109 in 18.3 overs. Shoaib Khan was the top scorer with 30. Oman matched Ireland’s efforts in the batting Powerplay, losing both their openers cheaply. Shoaib Khan and Zeeshan Maqsood (28) steadied the ship with a 40-run partnership. Shoaib scored at a healthy pace to keep the asking rate in check. They dealt with the Irish spinners pro-actively, effusing shades of Ireland’s game-changing fourth wicket partnership earlier in the day. But once Josh Little scalped Shoaib’s wicket in the 11th over, Oman’s batting roster crumbled. Khurram Nawaz was dismissed in the same over. Khawar Ali and Naseem Khushi soon followed suit.
Receiving no support from the other end, Maqsood was tasked with winning the match all by himself. His wicket in the 15th over put an end to all hopes of a successful Omani run-chase. Ireland cleaned up over the next four overs and put the finishing touches on a well-deserved victory. Simi Singh was their top performer with the ball, recording figures of 3/20 in 3.3 overs, but all the bowlers chipped in. Josh Little, Craig Young and Andy Mcbrine claimed two wickets apiece.
Andrew Balbirnie, Ireland Captain said: “Our determination was key today. We knew that to qualify we would have to win three games. We gradually got better as the tournament got on and that’s what you have to do in tournaments. Our T20 cricket has been really inconsistent so winning three games – we knew we would have to be at our best. Today, I think was our best all-round performance. The partnership between Gareth (Delany) and Harry (Tector) was crucial and set us up well. Obviously, Andy Mcbrine carried that momentum forward too so I was very happy with that. We are in a really good place as a team. The guys that aren’t playing are pushing the guys that are, day in day out. We don’t have a whole lot of cricketers to choose from but the ones we are choosing are doing a great job. The pressure in this tournament was something we hadn’t experienced in a while so I’m really relieved that we were able to come out on the right side.”
Zeeshan Maqsood, Oman Captain said: “Obviously, I’m very disappointed that we weren’t able to win and go through to the World Cup. But I’m sure we will come back stronger from this defeat. We began the chase in right earnest but stumbled around the halfway stage. We will analyse the mistakes that we made and look to learn and improve from them.”
The winner of Thursday’s final between UAE and Ireland will secure a place in Group 1 of the First Round at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia later this year. They will join Sri Lanka and Namibia with the fourth team to be decided after the Qualifier B in June.
The runner-up on Thursday will join West Indies and Scotland in Group 2. The winner of Qualifier B will complete the Group 2 in June. Also on Thursday, playoff classification games will determine the final rankings of the Qualifier A. Oman take on Nepal for the third place while Canada will meet Bahrain for fifth place spot. Germany will face the Philippines for the seventh place.