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Today Is A Massive Day For Irish Cricket

Afghanistan's cricketer Javed Ahmadi (R) walks off the field after being dismissed during third one day international (ODI) cricket match between Afghanistan and Ireland at Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium in Sharjah on December 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NEZAR BALOUT (Photo credit should read NEZAR BALOUT/AFP/Getty Images)

Ireland face Afghanistan on Friday in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare, with a place at the 2019 Cricket World Cup up for grabs.

Win and Ireland will qualify alongside the West Indies, who booked their spot by beating Scotland in a nail-biting affair.

After being humiliated by Zimbabwe earlier in the Super Six stage, Ireland’s fate was out of their hands and depended on UAE beating the hosts to have any chance of qualification.

The UAE had lost all their previously games in the Super Six but certainly left their best performance for last. They produced a fine all-round display to trump Zimbabwe in a last-ball thriller.

Needing six to win off the last ball, Craig Ervine could only manage a strike over cover for two, which  clinched  the victory for the UAE and kept Ireland’s hopes alive.

Ireland go into the game with a bit of a mixed bag form wise. Losing two and winning four, Ireland’s bowling attack has been impressive throughout and has improved no end under new bowling coach, Rob Cassell.

Where Ireland have struggled is in the batting department, with key individuals failing to notch up big scores. Coach Graham Ford will be hoping that his experienced players can produce a match-winning contribution.

Ireland’s opponents are familiar foes and are coached by former Irish boss Phil Simmons and former Irish international John Mooney.

Afghanistan opened up their qualification campaign by losing their opening three games but have bounced back with wins over the UAE and WI. There is no love lost between the sides who have developed a strong and intense rivalry with both sides having been elevated to “Full Membership”.

Ireland still have eight survivors from that historic victory over England in the World Cup in 2011. The so-called “Golden Generation” have done wonders for Irish Cricket and have put it on a pedestal.

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About Seán Hussey

Irishman who loves an array of sports.