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Friday 23 March 2012,

(BNA)

 Dubai - Afghanistan qualified for its second successive ICC World Twenty20 when it comprehensively beat Namibia by 47 runs in the 1st Qualifying Final of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2012 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium (DICS) on Thursday afternoon.

In front of about 3,500 cheering and jubilant supporters, Afghanistan fast bowler Dawlat Zadran dismissed Namibia's in-form openers Raymond van Schoor and Gerrie Snyman in his first over and then his new ball partner Aftab Alam ripped the heart out of the African side, as it stuttered to 99 all out in 18.1 overs after being set a target of 147.

Man of the match Zadran finished with impressive figures of 3.1-1-5-3 while Alam returned figures of 4-0-25-4.

The victory, apart from earning Afghanistan a ticket to Sri Lanka for the tournament proper to be staged from 18 September to 7 October, has also put it in the final of the qualifying tournament which will start at 1800 (local time) at the DICS on Saturday, 24 March.

While Afghanistan has been assured of a place in the tournament proper alongside the 10 Full Members, Namibia still has an opportunity to win the second and last available spot when it plays the winner of Ireland and Netherlands match on the morning of Saturday, 24 March.

On Thursday morning, Ireland had reached the Preliminary Final after recording a thumping 10 wickets victory over Canada where it was joined by Netherlands which ended the challenge of Scotland by three wickets.

The grouping of the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012 will be decided on the basis of how the final pans out. The tournament winner joins Australia and the West Indies in Group B, while the losing finalist will complete Group A which also includes defending champion England and 2007 winner India.

Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat first on a good batting surface. All its frontline batsmen made good starts but failed to convert these starts into big innings. As such, the entire side was bowled out for 146 in 20 overs.

Karim Sadiq (28), Javed Ahmadi (24), Asghar Stanikzai (19) and Mohammad Nabi (18) were the prominent run-getters while 57-run first wicket stand between Karim and Javed was Afghanistan's highest partnership.

Namibia captain Sarel Burger (three for 16) and Christi Viljoen (three for 34) not only picked up wickets at regular intervals but also didn't allow the attacking Afghan batsmen to free their arms.

In turn, Zadran sent back the two in-form Namibian openers back in the hut in the first five balls of the opening over before Alam ended the prospects of a close finish when he picked up the prized scalp of Louis van der Westhuizen in the fourth over as Namibia eventually fell 47 runs short after being bowled out for 99.

ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat complimented Afghanistan on its achievement. Mr Lorgat said: "Many congratulations to Nawroz Mangal's fantastic team for becoming the first side to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012.

"A second successive appearance for Afghanistan in a global ICC event after having only started to play internationally in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 tournament in 2008, is very impressive.

"I expect there will be lots of celebrations in Kabul today ? and why not? After all, this team has once again made its people proud by earning the right to play alongside the Full Members in a global ICC event.

"By qualifying for the ICC World T20 tournament, which will be followed by billions across the globe, Afghanistan will get another chance to showcase its talents and passion for the game of cricket. Judging by how they have played in recent years, I have no doubt that they will be a team to be reckoned with.

"Namibia also deserves to be congratulated as it has performed well throughout this tournament. While it may be disappointed today, it still has another opportunity to qualify as it will now play the winner of Ireland and Netherland's match to will determine the second country to qualify for the main event."

In a one-sided Ireland-Canada match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, the North Americans batted first after winning the toss and managed only 106 for eight against a disciplined Irish bowling. Opener Ruvindu Gunasekera (23), Tyson Gordon (23) and Nitish Kumar (17) were the only batsmen who reached double figures.

Ireland's left-arm spinner George Dockrell (three for 19), fast bowler Max Sorensen (three for 20) and veteran Trent Johnston (two for nine) shared wickets.

In turn, openers Paul Stirling and captain William Porterfield achieved the target in less than 10 overs without being separated. Stirling clubbed nine fours and three sixes in a 32-ball 61 not out while Porterfield's 25-ball 42 including eight sizzling fours.

Johnston, reflecting on his man of the match performance, said: "I think that the more games we're playing, the better I'm getting.

"I've always enjoyed bowling here as it reminds me of the Australian wickets. I think as a bowler, you know there's something in there if you are prepared to bend your back."

At the ICC Global Cricket Academy Oval 1, Tom Cooper produced his best batting performance of the tournament when he scored an electrifying 60 that helped the Netherlands defeat Scotland by three wickets.

Cooper slapped four fours and as many sixes in a 32-ball 62 which helped the Dutch to overhaul the 167-run target with three wickets and five balls to spare.

Cooper took the crease at the score of 67 for three in 9.1 overs and when he became the seventh and last Dutch batsman to get out, 15 runs were required off 12 balls. Tom de Grooth and Tim Gruijters ensured that their side crossed the line without any further hiccups when they scored the required 15 runs in seven balls.

Earlier, Scotland, electing to bat first after winning the toss, collected 166 for five with openers Callum MacLeod (57) and Richie Berrington (37) adding 59 runs for the first wicket and then MacLeod and Preseton Mommsen (26) putting on 54 runs for the second wicket.

For Netherlands, Pieter Seelaar two for 25), Mudassar Bukhari (two for 30) and Peter Borren (two for 32) shared wickets.

A smiling Cooper said later: "The target was probably par for this pitch. So we were confident of chasing it down. We did well to pull things back in bowling. I knew that if one of us stayed till the end then we could chase it down."

 

Thursday March 22, 2012,

DUBAI: Afghanistan booked their place in the 2012 World Twenty20 on Thursday with a 47-run victory over Namibia in the first final of the 16-nation qualifying tournament.

In a battle of two undefeated teams, Afghanistan were bowled out for 146 in their 20 overs before Namibia were dismissed for 99 in the 19th over.

Despite the loss, Namibia will get a second chance of making the World Twenty20 when they face either Ireland or the Netherlands in Saturday's second qualifying final.

Afghanistan, who also played in the 2010 World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, saw openers Karim Sadiq (28) and Javed Ahmadi (24) give their side a flying start with a partnership of 57 by the seventh over.

But Namibia slammed the brakes on the scoring rate with skipper Sarel Burger taking with 3 for 16.

However, the African side never recovered from a precarious 18 for four by the fourth over with seamer Dawlat Zadran boasting figures of 3 for 1 off his first two overs.

Burger and Nicholaas Scholtz, with 22 runs each, gave a little middle-order impetus, but Afghanistan were simply too powerful in all departments as they coasted to a place in the finals in Sri Lanka in September and October.

Right-arm fast bowler Aftab Alam claimed 4 for 25, sweeping up the tail in the process.

Earlier, Ireland swept past Canada in the play-offs, winning by 10 wickets while the Netherlands edged out Scotland by three wickets.

Ireland will face the Dutch on Friday with the winner of that game taking on Namibia on Saturday for the second available berth in Sri Lanka.

Afghanistan and the winner of Saturday's final play-off will meet in the tournament finale on Saturday night.

The winner will be slotted into Group B in Sri Lanka along side Australia and the West Indies with the runner-up going into Group A against India and defending champions England.

Thursday 22March 2012,

(BNA) Kabul:

The ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012 will have the first of its two qualifiers on Thursday afternoon when unbeaten Afghanistan and Namibia go head to the head in the 1st Qualifying Final of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2012 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium (DICS) on Thursday.

The match will start at 1400 (local time) and entry to the picturesque stadium, located inside the Dubai Sports City, will be free. This will be one of the six matches at the DICS from 22-24 March to be shown live online at

The ICC has also secured live television coverage of the games to be played at the DICS into key territories via ESPN STAR Sports and its licensees around the globe, ensuring prominent exposure for the event across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, North America and beyond.*

While the winner of Thursday afternoon's match will qualify for the tournament proper, the second and final qualifier will emerge on the morning of 24 March when the loser of the 1st Qualifying Final will square-off against the winner of the Preliminary Final (to be played between Netherlands, Canada, Ireland and Scotland in a cross-over format) on the morning of the same days at DICS.

In the tournament finale at the DICS on 24 March, the two qualifiers will square-off against each other and at stake will be the winner's trophy as well as the placing in the Sri Lanka tournament. The tournament winner will join Australia and the West Indies in Group B while the losing team will complete Group A which also includes defending champion England and 2007 winner India.

Defending tournament champion Afghanistan enters Thursday's match against Namibia as firm favourite. Apart from being very consistent with its performance which at times became simply outstanding, Afghanistan will also be returning to its happy hunting ground where it beat Ireland by eight wickets in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2010 to reach the ICC World Twenty20 2010 in the West Indies.

In this tournament to date, Afghanistan defeated Papua New Guinea (PNG) by six wickets, Netherlands by four wickets, Denmark by 89 runs, Nepal by 34 runs, Canada by 41 runs, Hong Kong by nine wickets and Bermuda by 15 runs.

Afghanistan's wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad is in good form of late and is the second leading run-getter in the tournament with 261 runs. Karim Sadiq is 11 runs behind Shahzad with 255 runs.

In contrast, Namibia entered the tournament as the seventh seeded side and topped Group B, which also included Ireland and Scotland, through some brilliant performances by tournament's leading run-getter Raymond van Schoor (323 runs), as well as opener Louis van der Westhuizen who scored one of the two centuries of the tournament while smashing a 51-ball 106 not out against Scotland.

In the league matches, Namibia brushed aside the challenge of Ireland by four runs, Scotland by 49 runs, the USA by 17 runs, Uganda by four runs, Kenya by seven wickets, Oman by 36 runs and Italy by 27 runs.

Namibia's Christoffel Viljoen and Dawlat Zadran of Afghanistan share sixth position in the leading wicket-takers' list with 11 wickets apiece.

Shakti Gauchan of Nepal leads the table with 14 wickets from seven matches, followed by Bermuda's Curt Stovell who has13 wickets. Ireland's Boyd Rankin, Majid Haq of Scotland and Oman's Zeeshan Siddiqui have 12 wickets apiece.

Looking ahead to the crunch match, Afghanistan captain Nawroz Mangal said: "This event has been great and we couldn't have done it without Kabir Khan our coach who has helped us get this far in the event.

"We've had some great individual performances that I hope will carry through into tomorrow's game and hopefully through to Saturday. The likes of Mohammad Shahzad, Karim Sadiq and Dawlat Zadran have been key but the whole team has been performing well and they will hopefully continue those performances tomorrow and beyond.

"Namibia are a good side whom we have faced before both in 2009 at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier and also we played a warm-up fixture against them ahead of this tournament but we are confident we will qualify for Sri Lanka later this year."

Namibia captain Sarel Burger sounded equally confident ahead of the big match when he said: "We have been fortunate with guys like Louis van Westhuizen and Raymond van Schoor who have stood up well. The fact that we played Ireland and Scotland early on helped us a lot, the Ireland win took a lot of pressure off us.

"It was a long road, the hard work has been done. The team has to stick together for the next few games. Afghanistan is going to be a good battle. They come quite hard early on just like us. The play-offs is a nice concept, it gives all teams a good chance to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20.

"We are confident of our team's chances. We have had one or two off-days, whereas Afghanistan has been near perfect. Maybe tomorrow could be their off-day."

Namibia opener van der Westhuizen said: "We've achieved what we set out to do and reached the final of the tournament. We played one of our warm-up matches against Afghanistan, so we have seen a bit of them. It is now just down to analysing them and working out our plans on how we can beat them.

"It is always nice to have the opportunity to play a live television match and for people to see us play. Hopefully I can do well and hopefully our team can do well.

"It would be a huge thing for the players and the people back home if we can qualify. We're looking forward to the challenge of playing Afghanistan."

Apart from earning the right to play alongside the 10 Full Members in one of the hottest formats of the sport today, the two qualifiers will also receive substantial funding from the ICC to prepare for the Sri Lanka event.

The two qualifying sides will receive preparation participation fees of US $250,000 ahead of the tournament beginning on 18 September 2012.

 

Tuesday 20 March 2012,

(BNA)

Namibia defeated Italy by 27 runs to finish unbeaten in Group B and set up a 1st Qualifying Final date with Afghanistan in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2012 at the ICC GCA Oval 1 on Tuesday.

Openers Raymond van Schoor and Gerrie Snyman put on 144 runs for a first wicket, highest of the tournament, which propelled Namibia to 194-2. In turn, Italy finished at 167 for eight.

The match between Afghanistan and Namibia will start at 1400 on Thursday at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium and the winner will qualify for the tournament proper to be staged Sri Lanka from 18 September to 7 October.

The losing side of the 1st Qualifying Final will take on the Preliminary Final winner (to be played in a cross-over format between the sides that finish second and third in the two groups) in the morning match of 24 March at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

While the winner of the morning match will become the second side to qualify for the Sri Lanka tournament, the evening match on the same day will not only decide the tournament winner but will also confirm Group A and Group B line-ups for the Sri Lanka tournament. The winning side will join Australia and the West Indies in Group B while the losing team will complete Group A which also includes defending champion England and 2007 winner India.

Van Schoor and Snyman were in devastating forms as they cut the Italian bowling to size. Between them, they hit 14 fours and five sixes as Snyman alone slapped five fours and as many sixes in a swashbuckling 49-ball 78.

Van Schoor's 57-ball 73 not out was punctuated was nine sizzling boundaries. Craig Williams, later in the order, also effectively used the long handle while smashing two fours and two sixes in a 12-ball 25.

Italy, in its target chase, finished at 167 for eight with Gareth Berg scoring 47, Alessandro Bonora contributing 40 and Michael Di Venuto hitting 35.

For Namibia, Sarel Burger and Louis Van Der Westhuizen equally shared four wickets between them conceding 29 runs piece.

Scores in brief
Namibia beats Italy by 27 runs at ICC GCA Oval 2, Dubai Sports City, Dubai
Namibia 194-2, 20 overs (Gerrie Snyman 78, Raymond van Schoor 73 not out, Craig Williams 25 not out)
Italy 167-8, 20 overs (Gareth Berg 47, Alessandro Bonora 40, Michael Di Venuto 35)
Man of the match Raymond van Schoor