|Ireland are growing in stature after competing in all Twenty20s since 2009 and the last two World Cups [GALLO/GETTY]|
Ireland will appear in their third consecutive World Twenty20 after qualifying for the tournament with a comprehensive, nine wicket victory over Namibia on Saturday.
The win sent Ireland into the final of the qualifying tournament later on Saturday, where they meet Afghanistan to determine the group in which each team will play when the competition proper starts in September in Sri Lanka.
Afghanistan beat Namibia on Thursday, sending the war-torn nation to their second consecutive World Twenty20.
“It’s obviously massive”
Ireland skipper William Porterfield
“It’s obviously massive,” skipper William Porterfield said of the team’s ninth straight victory after losing their opener to Namibia.
“We came into this tournament with the goal of winning. After losing the first game, we were going to have to do it the hard way. We managed to do that up to now. We have to concentrate on the final which is a big game for us.”
Ireland’s bowlers again were the stars, restricting Namibia to 94-6 before their batsmen rattled up 96-1 in reply.
Namibia’s openers failed to deliver, as in the team’s defeat by Afghanistan, with Louis van der Westhuizen caught by Andrew White off a Trent Johnston delivery for 14 runs and Raymond van Schoor – who was out for a duck against Afghanistan – was trapped lbw by Johnston for one run.
After losing wickets at regular intervals, Ian Opperman finished with a flourish, scoring 26 runs not out, but it was too little, too late.
Johnston finished with figures of 2-19, while Max Sorensen, the man of the match, took 2-8 and also bowled two maidens in his four-over spell.
Ireland had little trouble reaching the modest target, with openers Porterfield and Paul Stirling combining for 41 and Stirling finishing with an unbeaten 59 off of 32 balls. The Irish reached their target with 59 balls to spare.
“I’m absolutely delighted with my performance today,” said the South African-born Sorensen, who was playing in his first tournament for Ireland.
“It’s great to be playing for this team, enjoying every second of it,” he said.