ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, Group A November 24, 2013

Ireland through, Italy still in hunt despite loss

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ireland 207 for 4 (Stirling 77, O'Brien 62*) beat Hong Kong 122 (Atkinson 48, Stirling 4-10) by 85 runs

In what was a two-horse race to the World Twenty20 2014, Ireland thumped Hong Kong by 85 runs. Now, Ireland, as group-toppers, will play in the showpiece event regardless of what happens in the playoffs that follow this round of matches. Hong Kong, the No. 2 team in the group, will have to bring their A-game to those playoffs in order to edge closer to Bangladesh 2014.

Ireland elected to bat, and were solid all through their innings. Openers William Porterfield and Paul Stirling laid the platform with 91 in 10 overs, and Kevin O'Brien launched from that platform. He slammed an unbeaten 62 from 27 balls, with three fours and five sixes to power Ireland past the 200-run mark.

Faced with a target of 208, Hong Kong were hardly ever in the game. Stirling continued to be a thorn in their side, as he picked up four wickets - of which three were of top-order batsmen - with his offspin in a miserly spell. If Hong Kong haboured any hopes of chasing down the stiff target, Stirling's figures of 4-0-10-4 crushed them. They were eventually bowled out in the 18th over, 85 runs shy of Ireland's total.

Alongside Hong Kong, the teams from Group A that will be dependent on the results of the playoffs to progress further are UAE, Namibia and Italy.

Canada 105 for 5 (Cheema 34, Munasinghe 3-18) beat Italy 104 for 6 (Crowley 61*, Gordon 3-15) by five wickets

The contest for the fifth spot in Group A between Canada and Italy ended in favour of the latter, in spite of Canada's five-wicket win. An earlier abandoned game gave Italy a one-point advantage over Canada, who lifted themselves from the last place on Group A to finish sixth with the win.

Italy chose to bat in a match delayed by rain and lost three wickets in the first five overs to stumble to 15 for 3. Their bid for a competitive total was given a boost by a 39-run sixth-wicket stand - the only substantial partnership of the innings - between captain Damian Crowley and Alessandro Bonora. Crowley made an unbeaten half-century, and also provided a late thrust - 20 came in less than two overs at the end to help the team past 100. They finished at 104 for 6.

Canada's reply was equally shaky at the start - they were 14 for 3 in the fifth over - but a 73-run stand between Rizwan Cheema and Jimmy Hansra set the platform for the win. The stand lasted nearly 12 overs before Hansra was dismissed for 32. Cheema fell off the very next ball but, by then, Canada had drawn close and they achieved the target with four balls to spare

Namibia 125 for 7 (N Scholtz 38, Waiswa 2-26) beat Uganda 87 for 9 (Selowa 35, van der Westhuizen 3-12, B Scholtz 3-18) by 38 runs

Uganda's hopes of a fifth-place spot were undone by their 38-run loss to Namibia. A victory would have brought them level with Italy, taking the equation between the two sides into net run rate, but Uganda failed to overhaul the 126-run target set by Namibia.

Quick wickets pegged Namibia back at the start of their innings, after they won the toss and chose to bat. A 62-run fourth-wicket stand between Nicolaas Scholtz and Namibia captain Sarel Burger rescued the innings and the side eventually finished at a competitive 125 for 7.

Two wickets in the third over of the chase and another one in the fourth meant that Uganda were reeling at 13 for 3 early on. A 22-run stand between wicketkeeper Phillimon Selowa and Davis Arinaitwe temporarily stemmed the flow of wickets, but the pair of Bernard Scholtz and Louis van der Westhuizen chipped away at the Uganda batting line-up as they finished at 87 for 9. Bernard Scholtz finished with figures of 3 for 18 in four overs, while van der Westhuizen took 3 for 12 in his quota.

UAE 151 for 5 (Khurram 61*) beat USA 137 for 7 (Taylor 42, Khurram 3-30) by 14 runs

In a match that had little riding on its result, UAE handed USA their fifth loss of the tournament. That meant USA finished at the bottom of Group A. UAE put up a total of 151 for 5, built around an unbeaten knock of 61 by captain Khurram Khan. USA were off to a decent start in the chase, with openers Steven Taylor and Fahad Babar adding 41, but UAE picked up regular wickets once their partnership was broken. In what was a very effective all-round showing, Khurram picked up three wickets with his left-arm spin to finish with the best figures for UAE. With wickets falling every time it looked like a partnership was developing, USA could not keep up with the required rate and fell 14 runs short.