Afghanistan reach World Twenty20

First major tournament for country's cricketers following meteoric rise in the sport.

    Afghanistan's cricketers have put their country on the sporting map [GALLO/GETTY]
    Afghanistan's cricketers achieved their fairytale finish as they beat the UAE to qualify for their first major international tournament - the World Twenty20 cup.

    They then went on to win the final of the qualifying tournament in Dubai, downing Ireland by eight wickets on Saturday.

    Afghanistan's Mohammad Shahzad blasted an unbeaten 65 from 46 balls after opener Karim Sadiq laid the platform with a 17-ball 34 to ensure the team reached the target of 143 comfortably with 2.3 overs to spare.

    Ireland, who also qualify, started well with openers Niall O'Brien and William Porterfield putting on 42 runs in the first five overs. After Porterfield went, O'Brien and Alex Cusack maintained the run rate of eight per over.
     
    Earlier the UAE made 100-9 in their 20 overs before Noor Ali hit an unbeaten 38 to help Afghanistan win by four wickets, guaranteeing them a spot against the world's best teams in the West Indies in April.
     
    A first trophy on the world stage marks a remarkable feat by the Afghans - most of whom learnt to play cricket in refugee camps over the Pakistan border - as they were in the fifth division of the world cricket league just two years ago.

    Afghanistan, who showed their talent when they came within one place of reaching the 2011 World Cup finals, will be placed in Group C alongside India and South Africa while Ireland go into Group D with the West Indies and England.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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