Afghanistan, Ireland, Dutch into T20 playoffs

Dubai: Afghanistan beat Bermuda by 15 runs to remain undefeated and book its place alongside Ireland and the Netherlands in the playoffs at the World Twenty20 qualifier on Tuesday.

Afghanistan, which topped Group A, will play Namibia, if the latter beat Italy later and finished undefeated and top of Group B.

The Netherlands, which defeated Hong Kong by 38 runs, finished runner-up in Group A. Ireland, after topping Oman by 44 runs, finished second in Group B.

Canada and Nepal are meeting for the third and final playoff spot in Group A. Canada led Nepal by two points so a victory would see it through.

In Group B, Scotland could advance to the playoffs which begin on Thursday with a win over the United States. Kenya beat Uganda by 48 runs to keep alive its slim hopes. It needed Scotland to lose and then hope it had a better net run rate.

On Thursday, Afghanistan and Namibia will play for one of the two open spots in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September. The loser of that match then plays the eventual winner between the second and third-place teams.

Defending champion Afghanistan needed a victory to ensure finishing above the Netherlands here. Afghanistan reached 177-5 then limited Bermuda to 162-7. Afghanistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad slammed three fours and five sixes in a 38-ball 64 not out.

Shahzad, together with Mohammad Nabi, put on 56 for the fourth wicket before Shahzad was involved in an unbeaten 47-run, sixth-wicket partnership with Gulbodin Naib, who smashed three sixes and a four in an eight-ball 26 not out.

In turn, Bermuda`s Janeiro Tucker belted four straight sixes off Samiullah Shenwari in an electrifying 16-ball 37. Fiqre Crockwell was the other notable with 34 off 40 balls with three fours.

"I`m feeling very good because we won seven of seven matches and the boys are playing very good," Nabi said.

"Inshalla, we will try hard to qualify for the World Cup. If we qualify, we will show to the ICC that we are very good."

Ireland, which needed a win to secure second place outright in Group B, easily beat winless Oman. Having chosen to bat first in the morning haze in Abu Dhabi, Ireland skipper William Porterfield and Ed Joyce departed early, leading Gary Wilson to spearhead the batting with a smart 38-ball 52. Allrounder Kevin O`Brien added five boundaries on his way to 32 in a 160-5 total.

Oman struggled in the chase despite opener Jatinder Singh`s 56 not out. O`Brien took two wickets along with Max Sorensen and the Gulf side was limited to 116-6 in its 20 overs.

"It was nice to get a half-century and feels like I am hitting the ball nicely and hopefully that form will continue into the knockout stages," Wilson said. "With the loss of John Mooney for the tournament and Alex Cusack for today`s game, it meant that Nigel Jones and Kevin O`Brien who don`t normally bowl as much are going to have more of a chance. It shows what depth we`ve got in the team."

Netherlands posted a tournament-high 201-5, too much for Hong Kong, which finished at 118-7.

Stephan Myburgh and Michael Swart opened with a 97-run partnership for the Dutch, and Tom Cooper hit 42 off 25 balls with six boundaries and a six to beef up the scoring.

Hong Kong`s chase never took off with only skipper James Atkinson (64) making an impression. Cooper (2-8) and Tim Gruijters (2-11) were the key wicket-takers for the Netherlands.

"It was good to come in and have a hit about," Cooper said. "I am disappointed that I did not make a big score. But in the end the team won."


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