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Ireland becomes second side to qualify for ICC World Twenty20

Dubai: Ireland became the second side to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012 when it comprehensively beat Namibia by nine wickets in the 2nd Qualifying Final of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2012 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium (DICS) on Saturday afternoon.

Ireland bowlers, led by fast-medium bowlers Trent Johnston and Max Sorensen, restricted Namibia’s in-form batting line-up to just 94-6 all out in 20 overs. Ireland chased down the target in just 10.1 overs to end at 96-1, thanks to Paul Stirling’s unbeaten 59 off 32 balls with nine boundaries and a six.

With this win, Ireland avenged the loss in the opening league game of the tournament to Namibia.

Earlier, while Trent Johnston ended with figures of (two for 19) he was upstaged by Max Sorensen, who bowled a spell of 4-2-8-2 with no fewer than 17 dot balls, to earn the man of the match award.

The victory, apart from earning Ireland a ticket to Sri Lanka for the tournament proper to be staged from 18 September to 7 October, has also set up a final of the qualifying tournament against Afghanistan, which will start at 1800 (local time) at the DICS on Saturday, 24 March.*

The final line up of the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012 will be decided on the basis of how the final finishes. The tournament winner joins Australia and the West Indies in Group B, while the losing finalist will complete Group A which also includes defending champion England and 2007 winner India.

Namibia won the toss and elected to bat first. But Namibia’s batting never got going as Ireland’s new-ball attack had a vice-like grip.

Ian Opperman (26 n.o.) captain Sarel Burger (20) were the only batsmen to make any impact in the innings. So good was the Ireland bowling that left-arm spinner George Dockrell was not even pressed into the attack by captain William Porterfield.

In the chase, Ireland top-order batted like in the other play-off games, knocking off the runs in a hurry. Stirling and Porterfield added 41 runs for the first wicket. Thereafter Ed Joyce joined Stirling to end the chase in fine style.

A disappointed Namibia captain Sarel Burger later said: “It was the right decision to bat first. Unfortunately we did not end up scoring the runs we should have. The pitch does not change much over 20 overs. Ireland came out and bowled very well.

“There was a lot of anticipation and excitement. Maybe due to big expectations, one tends to get carried away. A lot of times you put yourself under a lot of pressure.

“I think the sad part is we had the momentum very early on, unfortunately it started running out towards the end. It was a great learning curve for the younger players and even the senior players.

“We have got the ICC Intercontinental Cup to look forward to. We have played well enough to make people proud of our performances.”

Porterfield was thrilled at qualifying for yet another ICC global event.

“I think Namibia played well throughout the tournament. It was easy picking ourselves up after the defeat against Namibia in the first game because we lost by just four runs.

“We came here with a goal of winning this tournament. The qualification has been achieved. We have done it the hard way but it is yet another great day for Irish sport. We just want to keep it going.

Man of the match, Sorensen was delighted to have played a significant part in Ireland’s win.

“I am delighted with my performance. It is great to be playing for this team. I am new in this team and taking every day as it comes. I just told myself that I want to start well. I have leaked a few more runs in the previous games. So it was good to be in the rhythm early on. I bowled a little back of the length and it went off well for us.”

ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat complimented Ireland on its qualification for the ICC WT20 event.  Ireland will be making its third appearance at the ICC World Twenty20 event after having played in the 2009 and 2010 editions.

Mr Lorgat said: “Congratulations are in order and I know this means a lot to Cricket Ireland, the team and the nation for qualifying to play in the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012.

“This is worthy reward for the Irish team and also illustrates the continuing success of the Gatorade ICC High Performance Programme.

“Having previously made headlines across the world with their astonishing triumph over England in the last ICC Cricket World Cup, I am sure that Ireland will expect to perform at even greater levels in Sri Lanka later this year.

“Namibia also deserves praise as they have performed extremely well throughout the tournament having won all seven of their group games. While they may be disappointed today, Namibia is a young team and has shown great strides in their performance level.”