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Ireland secured their spot at next year’s ICC T20 World Cup in Bangladesh after an 85-run victory over Hong Kong in Abu Dhabi. Scotland also kept their dreams alive after securing a play-off spot following a 75-run over Group B strugglers Denmark.
In the game between the top two in Group A, Ireland batted first after captain William Porterfield won the toss and impressed from the off. At the halfway mark they were 91 without loss, with openers Porterfield 38*(29b) and Paul Stirling 49* (31b) going very well at the crease.
Porterfield fell in the next over to Nizakat Khan on the same score but Stirling went on to record a stunning 77 from 46 balls, hitting nine fours and three sixes in the process to help Ireland post 207-4 from their 20 overs.
Stirling’s brilliance didn’t end there though as he ripped through Hong Kong’s middle order to record incredible figures of 4-0-10-4. There were also wickets for Max Sorenson (2-0-26-1), Alex Cusack (2-0-13-1), George Dockrell (4-0-18-2) and James Shannon (0.1-0-0-1) as Hong Kong were bowled out for 122 with 17.1 overs gone.
Ireland now head to the semi-finals of the tournament - their game will be played on Friday, November 29 - and will find out their opponents as the play-offs progress. Leicestershire’s Niall O’Brien did not feature today.
Batting first in Dubai, Scotland posted a mammoth 205-3 from their 20 overs. After losing opener Richie Berrington (4,6b) early on, Matt Machan came in to bat at and smashed a thrilling 90* from just 55 balls with Calum Macleod (41,32b) and Michael Leask (41,20b) also enjoying impressive knocks alongside him.
Leicestershire all-rounder Rob Taylor made another quickfire contribution with the bat, hitting 17 not out from just 9 balls including two huge maximums.
In reply, Scotland made a brilliant start as Neil Carter removed opener Yasir Iqbal for 0 in the first over. Carsten Pedersen (43,48b) provided some resistance for the Danes but after he was dismissed off the bowling of Majid Haq, they limped to a total of 130-6 after 20 overs to finish bottom of Group B. Taylor recorded figures of 2-0-22-0. Scotland will now face Italy in the Qualification play-off semi-final on Wednesday.
Niall O’Brien hit an important unbeaten 35 as Ireland beat Uganda by 48 runs to remain in pole position to win their ICC World T20 Qualifying group.
O’Brien, who batted at number three in the penultimate qualifier, shared 61 for the fourth wicket with Gary Wilson (40, 27b) as Ireland posted a competitive 147-4 in Abu Dhabi.
It proved to be a matchwinning total as Uganda struggled to 99-7 in reply. Spinners George Dockrell (4-0-12-2) and Paul Stirling (4-0-23-2) did the bulk of the damage, while Tim Murtagh (3-1-7-0) and Max Sorensen (3-0-13-1) were also highly economical.
Ireland remain top of the group, a point ahead of Hong Kong, who are their final opponents on Sunday. The UAE can still qualify but it appears likely that the winner will come from the Ireland-Hong Kong game, so that match could not be set up any better.
Rob Taylor played a key role as Scotland kept their qualification hopes alive with a fantastic 15-run victory against Netherlands in Dubai.
Taylor, who blasted 41 not out from just 19 balls with four fours and two sixes, added an unbroken 72 for the fifth wicket with Matt Machan (67*, 46b) as Scotland totalled 165-5.
Taylor then took 1-16 from two overs and held a catch as Netherlands were restricted to 150-6 in reply. Majid Haq was the star turn with 3-20 with his off-breaks.
The result means that Scotland are fifth in the table, and can still clinch a top three place with a win against Denmark on Sunday. The mathematics are complicated but Scotland simply must win the final game and hope other results go their way.
* The top team in each group qualifies outright, while teams placed second to fifth go into a play-off scenario and play cross-over matches. In total, six teams will qualify for the tournament proper in Bangladesh next year.