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Ireland secure qualification with win over PNG

Ireland Women secured T20 World Cup qualification with a nervy 27-run win against PNG in a tense semi-final showdown in Amstelveen.

Having lost the toss and been asked to bat, the Irish innings got off to a bad start as they lost influential opener Clare Shillington second ball.

PNG let the Irish off the hook with a succession of missed opportunities which allowed Cecelia Joyce (18) and top scorer Gaby Lewis to add 47 to settle the Irish camp.

Lewis struck five boundaries in her 36 from 33 balls, before being run out while backing up too far.

Skipper Laura Delany (21*) with the aid of double figure contributions from Isobel Joyce, Shauna Kavanagh and Kim Garth saw the Irish finish on 113-6.

The Irish knew they would have to bowl and field well to keep their World Cup dream alive and so they did with early wickets for Isobel Joyce and Eimear Richardson setting the tone for a superb display by the bowling unit.

The Irish strangled the PNG reply, as the required rate steadily climbed - indeed, the first boundary didn't come until the 11th over.

Skipper Laura Delany took two wickets in an over to finish her spell with 2-15, while Player of the Match Lucy O'Reilly took two in two balls, to finish with 3 for 13 as PNG were dismissed for 86.

Laura Delany, captain of the Irish Women's cricket team, said after the game: "We're absolutely ecstatic, and judging by the reaction after the game, everyone is thrilled to get the win here today.

"Our main focus coming into the tournament was not just to qualify but to win the qualifier like in 2015. We have come out with the same mindset, and the final on Saturday will be a tough game for us.

"We've been really fortunate to have a lot of cricket in Ireland in the lead up - a tough series against New Zealand and a good series against Bangladesh. That put us in good stead for the qualifying tournament.

"Today we didn't fire with the bat the way we would have liked to, but I'm very confident come Saturday  we'll put that right.

"There were a few nerves around today because there was so much at stake on this game, but this is the best sporting team that I've been involved in and I think the next six months is an incredibly exciting time for Irish women's cricket. It's a chance to do somethings perhaps that no Irish women's team has done before."

The Irish will now face familiar opponents in the form of Bangladesh, who they beat in a memorable final in Bangkok in 2015.