Afghanistan 128 for 4 (Mangal 65*) beat Papua New Guinea 127 for 6 (Amini 37*, Shapoor 2-9) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Nawroz Mangal's second consecutive Man-of-the-Match performance put Afghanistan back in the World Twenty20 as the side coasted to a six-wicket win over Papua New Guinea. Mangal hit a chanceless 65 not out to chase down PNG's 127 for 6, as Afghanistan reached the target with 10 balls to spare.
PNG's decision to bat first was a curious one with the knowledge that all four morning games at Malahide prior to Thursday's contest had been won by the chasing team. Afghanistan gleefully accepted the opportunity to bowl first and pinned PNG back to 20 for 2 in a boundary-free Powerplay.
Both openers were caught behind for 5 in successive overs - Lega Siaka was out after flat-footed swish to Dawlat Zadran while Tony Ura feathered an edge off an attempted pull against Shapoor Zadran. Vani Morea fell to Mohammad Nabi in the eighth over for 9, given leg-before missing a paddle sweep, though replays showed there was some doubt as to whether contact was in line with off stump.
Assad Vala, PNG's leading scorer in the group stage, added just 7 before he was given out shuffling across his stumps to the medium-pace of Mirwais Ashraf. Mahuru Dai tried to bring life to PNG's innings by scooping Shapoor over fine-leg but was out next ball for 11 after his uppercut found Mangal at third man to make it 55 for 5 in the 13th.
Hamid Hassan had been out of the line-up for Afghanistan's two losses in the tournament to Oman and Hong Kong, and bowled decently in his first three overs to take 1 for 16 including a reverse-swinging gem that bowled Jack Vare for 13 to end the 17th at 89 for 6. However, Hassan came in for some heavy punishment in the 19th from Norman Vanua and Charles Amini, conceding 20 runs to spoil his figures.
Vanua, whose unbeaten 28 off 10 balls at no. 10 propelled PNG to a two-wicket win over Ireland, came in at no. 8 today and provided a similar spark, cracking Hassan over square-leg for six and again through the covers for four before Amini paddled a four behind square later in the over. Vanua ramped Mirwais Ashraf in the 20th and ended unbeaten on 22 off 10, while Amini's run-a-ball 37 was PNG's highest individual score in Ireland. The pair's 38-run stand to end the innings gave the side hope.
That hope was extended further on the first ball of the chase as Vanua got Mohammad Shahzad to chase a short and wide delivery, giving a toe edge for a golden duck. Another opportunity was available to get Asghar Stanikzai on 9 in the fourth over, but Amini's dart for the stumps from mid-on was wide.
PNG did their best to keep things tight but Afghanistan were patient enough to wait for the loose ball to release any building pressure. Mangal smacked a boundary over the leg side to start the sixth off Chad Soper and then heaved a half-tracker from Dai over the midwicket rope to start the ninth.
The 57-run stand was finally broken by the legspin of Amini, who enticed Stanikzai to come down the track on a loopy good length delivery dragged wide outside off. The turn beat Stanikzai's edge and Vare whipped off the bails for 22, ending the 10th at 57 for 2.
The briefest bit of PNG momentum was stolen back immediately by Mangal, who counter-punched in the 11th by launching back-to-back sixes from Dai's off spin back over the bowler's head. The only blips in the chase from thereon were the wickets of Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi. Shenwari's attempted reverse-paddle off Amini went to Dai at backward point and Nabi skied a pull against Vanua to Dai at midwicket in the 17th.
But Mangal had brought up his 50 off 43 balls by that point and any hopes of a PNG comeback were completely shattered when Loa Nou bowled consecutive front foot no balls in the 18th, the second of which was catapulted for six by Najibullah Zadran to bring the equation down to nine off 15 balls. Najibullah ended the match in the next over with another six.
Afghanistan now go to the World Twenty20 for the fourth consecutive time while PNG end the tournament with three straight defeats when a win in any of those contests - against Namibia, USA and Afghanistan - would have clinched a spot in India for the side.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna