Ireland finish the job in Dubai
Stirling again the star as Irish win T20 final
Last Updated: March 24, 2012 7:21pm
Paul Stirling: Another display of big-hitting
A second half-century of the day from Paul Stirling gave Ireland a five-wicket victory over Afghanistan in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in Dubai.
Stirling, who bludgeoned 59 in the earlier victory over Namibia, made 79 off just 38 balls to carry his side to their target of of 152 with seven balls to spare.
Already bound for the World Twenty20 later this year, the match against Afghanistan was to determine which group they would play in and Kevin O'Brien and Max Sorensen both took two wickets in a strong bowling display in a total of 156-5.
Ireland's reply got off to the worst possible start when William Porterfield was bowled by a first-ball yorker from Zadran Dawlat.
But, after Ed Joyce went for 11, Stirling and Gary Wilson (32) put on 80 for the third wicket before the former was caught at at deep square leg by Gulbodin Naib off Dawlat after smashing nine fours and three sixes.
O'Brien went next ball for Ireland's second duck of the innings, but Andrew Poynter's 23 off 17 saw them home.
Earlier, after openers Karim Sadiq (16) and Javed Ahmadi (six) had been sent packing, number three Mohammad Shehzad gave Afghanistan hope of posting a competitive total with 77 off 57 balls.
O'Brien and Sorensen removed three of his partners before Naib joined him at the crease
Sorensen ended Shehzad's impressive stand in the 19th over, but Naib finished with an unbeaten 17 off eight, including two sixes.
Ireland will now be placed in the same pool as Australia and the West Indies in the finals, to be played in September and October, while Afghanistan will face defending champions England and India.