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Friday 18 August 2017

Ireland defeated by Afghanistan spin in Desert T20 Challenge final

Gary Wilson hit his maiden Twenty20 international 50 in Ireland's semi-final win over Scotland
Gary Wilson hit his maiden Twenty20 international 50 in Ireland's semi-final win over Scotland

Ireland came badly unstuck against Afghanistan's spinners as their Desert T20 Challenge campaign ended in frustrating anti-climax with a 10-wicket humbling in the final.

William Porterfield's team had piled up a ground record-equalling 211 for six in their semi-final trouncing of Scotland in Dubai - but a few hours later, they never got started and collapsed to 71 all out in 13.2 overs, following their third-highest Twenty20 international score with their second-lowest as only opener Paul Stirling and Greg Thompson mustered double-figures.

Afghanistan made no such mistake and knocked off the inadequate total in only 7.5 overs, big-hitting Mohammad Shahzad (52no) powering them to victory with nine fours and a six for his second half-century of the day in an utterly one-sided match which lasted little more than half the time it was scheduled to.

Ireland won the toss but lost their top four in the powerplay overs as veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi got to work on his way to a career-best four for 10.

Two more wickets fell in three balls to left-arm orthodox Amir Hamza in the eighth over - and already, Ireland's realistic hopes of setting a defendable total were in shreds.

Gary Wilson and Stirling had been their driving forces against Scotland.

In a semi-final which also proved a match to remember for Ireland's young leg-spinner Jacob Mulder, Stirling (60) set the tone, and then Wilson (65 not out) took over with a 23-ball half-century - his first in this international format.

Scotland's reply got off to a flying start, but they were undone by Mulder (four wickets for 16 runs) and his fellow spinner George Dockrell (three for 28) as they lost their last nine wickets for 41 to be bowled out for 113 with almost five overs unused.

Stirling and Stuart Poynter raced to 71 in the first six overs, after Scotland won the toss.

Ireland's opening stand ended on 78, Poynter holing out in the deep off Con de Lange, and then Porterfield fell cheaply to Josh Davey - brought back after conceding 17 in his first over.

Stirling passed 50 from 31 balls, having hit five fours and two sixes, but went caught-and-bowled to De Lange.

Wilson then took toll of Davey again and reached his 50 with a six off Safyaan Sharif, the second of his three maximums to go with eight fours.

Matthew Cross began the run chase in a blaze of boundaries and sixes, and his opening partner Kyle Coetzer took 21 runs from one Craig Young over as Scotland matched their opponents in powerplay.

But Mulder saw off Coetzer, the first of two wickets in two balls, on his way to impressive career-best figures.

Afghanistan booked their place in the final with a morning victory over Oman by eight wickets with nine balls to spare.

Shahzad (80) hit eight fours and three sixes as Afghanistan comfortably chased 149 for eight. Left-arm seamer Fareed Ahmad did most to restrict Oman with his career-best three for 35.

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