Ireland overcame Zimbabwe by four runs in a thrilling semifinal to secure their place in the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa.
Ireland’s top six batters scored double figures, while the bowlers remained cool under duress. This was a terrific overall team effort.
At the qualifiers in Abu Dhabi, Jane Maguire and Arlene Kelly combined for four significant wickets, helping Ed Joyce’s team hold on to one of the two available T20 World Cup slots.
Ireland, which was given the opportunity to bat first, got off to a strong start when Gaby Lewis smacked the second ball of the day to the deep square leg boundary.
She punished any short deliveries with opening partner Amy Hunter as they attempted to seize the momentum right away. But with Ireland 25-1, Lewis (11) lost in the fourth over after she top-edged one to a backward point.
After Ireland won the powerplay, Orla Prendergast entered the game and immediately showed she was in top form, hitting two fours and a six off her first nine balls.
Hunter (19) moved past Audrey Mazvishaya after a stand of 31 runs but was caught in the ninth over. After getting dropped earlier in her inning, Prendergast attempted to capitalize on a second chance. She smashed her way to 28 before holing out at cover off the bowling of Kelis Ndlovu.
Ireland’s innings were on the line at 68-3, but a number of dropped catches allowed them to ride their luck. Ireland regained control thanks to rapid 30-run partnerships from Laura Delany (22) and Eimear Richardson (14), followed by a 27-run combination from Delany and Rebecca Stokell (26* off 12 balls).
As 37 runs came in the final three overs, Ireland finished with 137-6 from their 20 overs. Stokell’s late cameo saw her smash 20 runs off the 18th over.
Ndlovu (8) and Chipo Tiripano (4) were the first two wickets that Jane Maguire captured in the Zimbabwean run chase. She then started to recover after Sharne Mayers and Mary-Anne Musonda put together a 50-run partnership.
By clipping the off stump of Mayers (39), Kelly ended the partnership in the 13th over, leaving Zimbabwe at 71-3.
In the later overs, Zimbabwe’s scoring rate increased. When Cara Murray struck, dismissing Musonda (31) with a flighted delivery that spun away from the right-hander and left her stranded when she needed 39 from 30 balls, Mary Waldron dutifully finished the stumping.
The batting side needed 15 runs when Delany onto the pitch for the last over, but despite a boundary on the first delivery, Ireland held on to win.
With their victory today, Ireland has officially qualified for the 2022 T20 World Cup. They will face the winners of Bangladesh and Thailand in the Qualifier Final on Sunday. The challenging work is finished.
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