Dubai: A sensational spell of 4 for 10 from Mohammad Nabi helped Afghanistan bowl Ireland out for just 71 and win the inaugural Desert Twenty20 Challenge with a convincing ten-wicket victory in Dubai on Friday.
Nabi had ample assistance from other Afghanistan bowlers with Amir Hamza, Fareed Ahmed and Karim Janat picking up two wickets each as Ireland was bowled out in just 13.2 overs. The small target was achieved with ease as Mohammad Shahzad smashed an unbeaten 52 off 40 to help his side cross the line in just 7.5 overs.
Just hours after scoring a tournament-high 211 for 6 in the semifinal against Scotland, Ireland's batsmen faltered after opting to bat. In stark contrast to the earlier game, only a couple managed to get into double-digits.
The tone was set in the second over, when Stuart Poyntner, the opening batsman, top-edged Fareed to point while trying to pull a short ball. Once the pacer gave the early breakthrough, the spinners took over, running through the rest of the line-up.
Nabi was the wrecker-in-chef and began his act in the fourth over when he had William Porterfield stumped. He followed it up with a double-wicket over in which he consumed Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien. Stirling, who made 60 against Scotland, flicked straight to midwicket after making Ireland's highest score (17), while O'Brien was beaten by a straight one to be bowled.
Ireland was struggling at 41 for 4 in the sixth over and it only got worse when Amir Hamza, the left-arm spinner, too had two wickets in the eighth over. He first trapped Gary Wilson leg before with a quicker one before knocking Andy McBrine's stumps over two balls later. There was no way back for Ireland, as the remaining four wickets didn't last very long.
Shahzad, Afghanistan's opening batsman, ensured there would be no twists as he unleashed a flurry of boundaries. Once the first over of the chase, from Boyd Rankin, went for 16, there was no looking back for Afghanistan. Shahzad, who hit 80 in the semifinal against Oman earlier in the day, continued his form and hit nine fours and a six. He finished the game with a boundary of George Dockrell that gave him his half-century, and Afghanistan the trophy.
Ireland - 71 (Nabi 4-10)
Afghanistan - 75 for 0 (Shahzad 52*)
Result - Afghanistan won by ten wickets