UAE and Ireland on Tuesday confirmed their tickets to the ICC men’s T20 World Cup in Australia after reaching the final of the Qualifier A at Al Amerat, Oman. 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 produced a clinical performance to reach the 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.
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.
Chasing an imposing victory target of 176, Nepal were rocked by the early strikes of UAE pacer Junaid Siddique.
The quick was in top gear, removing the top-three Nepal batters in his three-over spell. A sensational opening over saw Siddique sending back opener Aasif Sheikh and one-down batter Lokesh Bam off two successive balls. Nepal were 3 for 2 in six balls and the chase looked a tall order.
Siddique then took the prize scalp of Nepal’s in-form batter Kushal Bhurtel in his second over. UAE skipper Ahmed Raza’s double-strike in the 13th over extinguished whatever hopes Nepal had as they were down to 83 for 6.
Raza’s golden arm found him more success to wrap up Nepal innings for 107 and his five-wicket haul earning him the player of the match award. The experienced duo of Dipendra Singh Airee (38) and Gyanendra Malla were the only batters to reach double digits.
Earlier, Vriitya Aravind continued with his blazing batting display. A whirlwind knock of 46 off 23 set the tone for his team’s impressive total.
Ireland ease to victory
Batting first after losing the toss, Ireland posted 165 for 7. Gareth Delany top-scored with a 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 stitched 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.
The winner of Thursday’s final between UAE and Ireland will secure a place in Group 1 of the first round at the World Cup later this year. They will join Sri Lanka and Namibia with the fourth team to be decided after the Qualifier B in June.
The runners-up on Thursday will join West Indies and Scotland in Group 2. The winner of Qualifier B will complete the Group 2 in June.
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