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Afghanistan reach World Cup after victory over Ireland in Super Sixes

A five-wicket win was completed with five balls to spare in Harare, meaning Afghanistan join West Indies in the 10-team event in England

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World Cup Qualifier, Harare - Ireland 209-7 (Stirling 55), Afghanistan 213-5 (Shahzad 54) - Afghanistan win by five wickets and qualify for the 2019 World Cup

Afghanistan have completed the most unlikely comeback and secured their place at the 2019 World Cup.

Victory over Ireland in the final game of the Super Sixes stage of the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe on Friday secured the Afghans a spot in next summer's tournament.

A five-wicket win was completed with five balls to spare in Harare, meaning they join West Indies in the 10-team event in England.

Mohammad Shahzad made 54 from 50 deliveries and captain Asghar Stanikzai hit an unbeaten 39 to see Afghanistan home in a tense encounter at Harare Sports Club.

Earlier, Ireland had compiled a score of 209 for seven from their 50 overs.

Paul Stirling contributed 55 from the top of the order while Kevin O'Brien rounded off the innings with 41 at better than a run a ball.

It seemed to put the Irish in a good position at a ground where scoring has at times been difficult during the Qualifier campaign.

Afghanistan, too, had struggled to pass 200 during the competition and when Mohammad Nabi was dismissed in the 38th over, leaving 65 required at almost six runs per over, the match lay in the balance.

However, Stanikzai - who missed part of the tournament after suffering appendicitis - came together first with Samiullah Shenwari, who made 27, and then Najibullah Zadran (17 not out) to guide his side to victory.

Afghanistan's recovery was the more remarkable after they entered the Super Sixes phase of the tournament having lost to Scotland, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong.

Victory over Nepal in their final group match helped them into the second phase of the event, where they suddenly rediscovered their form and won against both West Indies and the UAE prior to their meeting with Ireland.

The Afghans complete a 10-team format for the 2019 competition, an ICC decision which has been widely decried by commentators on Associate cricket during a compelling Qualifier.

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