Desert T20 Challenge: Ireland beat hosts UAE to progress to semi-finals
|Desert T20 Challenge, Dubai:|
|Ireland 160-6 (20 overs): O'Brien 40, Stirling 39, Wilson 26|
|United Arab Emirates 136-7 (20 overs) A Javed 47 no, Naveed 25 no|
|Ireland won by 24 runs|
Ireland qualified for the semi-finals of the inaugural Desert T20 tournament by beating hosts United Arab Emirates by 24 runs in Dubai.
Kevin O'Brien's 40 and 39 from Paul Stirling helped Ireland post 160-6 and, despite some late Amjad Javed (47*) hitting, the UAE fell well short.
The crucial Irish partnership proved to be the 53 runs put on by O'Brien and Gary Wilson (26) for the fourth wicket.
Three early wickets from Boyd Rankin helped reduce the UAE to 21-5.
Leg-spinner Jacob Mulder claimed two dismissals as the hosts limped to 77-7 with O'Brien and Craig Young also taking wickets.
A late surge by skipper Javed, who clubbed three of his five sixes in the final over off Stirling, made the result appear much closer than it was.
The Irish total included eight sixes, having failed to clear the ropes in their two previous games in the tournament.
O'Brien praises Rankin bowling display
O'Brien was delighted with Ireland's victory after what he described as a "very good all-round team performance".
"It's always good to peak at right time in a tournament like this to follow up Tuesday's win over Namibia," added the Irish all-rounder.
Former England Test player Rankin returned to the Irish team having missed the Namibia game and O'Brien was delighted at the Tyrone paceman's contribution.
"He makes things difficult for the opposition with his natural length, and those three early wickets meant we were always in control of the game."
Ireland will not know Friday's semi-final opponents until Group B is completed on Thursday with the Netherlands, Scotland and Oman vying for the two qualifying spots.
After losing their Group A opener against Afghanistan on Saturday, the Irish kept their hopes alive by edging out Namibia in a tight contest on Tuesday which set up Wednesday's straight shootout against the hosts for a semi-final place.
The week-long competition aims to give more T20 tournament experience to the eight associate countries involved.