Afghanistan books World Cup berth

Defeats Ireland by five wickets in the Super Six stage of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers.

Afghanistan made it to its second World Cup, having participated in 2015. Photo: AP

With a five-wicket defeat of Ireland in the Super Six stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers on Friday, Afghanistan booked its spot in the World Cup. It completed a remarkable turnaround after a stuttering start to its campaign in the tournament, narrowly making it to the Super Sixes before inching its way up the table and gaining the big prize alongside West Indies.

Scorecard

In what was a virtual knockout, Afghanistan eked out a last-over win.

Dawlat Zadran and leg-spinner Rashid Khan were chiefly among the wickets as Ireland stumbled to 209 for 7 in its 50 overs, helped by Paul Stirling's half-century and supporting acts from Niall O'Brien (36) and Kevin O'Brien (41). Afghanistan began its chase assuredly, strolling to 113 for 1 before a few wickets and a rising required run-rate derailed it. It took a 29-ball 39 from captain Asghar Stanikzai to get the team over the line.

The 'champion' dance was brought out of the drawer, and scenes of celebrations pervaded to acknowledge the feat.

It was a long way away, though, when Afghanistan lost its first three games in the tourney. It made it to the Super Sixes and won all its matches but it was a defeat of Zimbabwe on Thursday by UAE that kept the team in contention.

The fairy tale end was in sight when opener Mohammad Shahzad scored 54 off 50 balls to set Afghanistan off to a bright start to its chase of 210. The middle-order was shaky and pressure mounted before the finishing act by Stanikzai and Najibullah Zadran (unbeaten 17).

The 10-team World Cup will be staged in England in 2019.