Alex Cusack and Trent Johnston propelled Ireland to a 59-run win over Afghanistan in the ICC World Cricket League Championship at Clontarf.
Ed Joyce’s belligerent 67 not out helped the hosts to 163 all out inside 47 overs after they were put in to bat in the second clash between the two countries, who shared the spoils yesterday when rain ruined any chances of play.
But any hopes Afghanistan had of chasing down the total were dashed by Ireland’s miserly bowling attack, with Cusack taking three for 17 and Johnston two for 18 respectively before their spinners finished the job.
With the top two spots in the league earning a place at the 2015 World Cup, both teams would have been desperate for a win although Ireland got off to a woeful start.
Left-arm seamer Shapoor Zadran ripped through their top order, taking three wickets as Will Porterfield’s men fell to 33 for four in the 12th over.
Joyce remained calm and continued to keep the score rate ticking, adding 47 for the fifth wicket with Kevin O’Brien, who wrote his name into cricket folklore with a bruising century as Ireland famously beat England in last year’s World Cup.
O’Brien made 31 off 32 balls before he was run out after Joyce had called for a quick single although Ireland battled on, with left-hander Joyce’s unbeaten 67 coming off 124 deliveries.
Any thoughts the total was too low were quickly dispelled when Johnston removed captain Karim Sadiq and wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad while Cusack accounted for Javed Ahmadi, Asghar Stanikzai and Mohammad Nabi as Afghanistan fell to 33 for five.
Spin duo Paul Stirling and George Dockrell took two wickets apiece as Afghanistan were all out after 33.1 overs to hand Ireland a comfortable victory.