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Ireland book place at T20 World Cup in thrilling style

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Ireland survived a nail-biting semi-final to beat Zimbabwe by four runs and ensure qualification to the 2023 ICC Women's T20 World Cup in South Africa.In an excellent all-round team performance, Ireland’s top six batters registered double-figures, while the bowlers remained composed under mounting pressure.Jane Maguire and Arlene Kelly took four crucial wickets between them as Ed Joyce’s team held on to claim one of the two T20 World Cup spots on offer at the qualifiers in Abu Dhabi.Batting first, Ireland started off with positive intent, Gaby Lewis slapping the second ball of the day to the deep square leg boundary.Along with her opening partner Amy Hunter, the pair punished any short deliveries as they looked to take the early initiative.

However, Lewis (11) fell in the fourth over after she top-edged one to backward point, with Ireland 25-1.Orla Prendergast entered the fray and looked in fine touch once again, striking two fours and a six from her first nine balls, as Ireland moved on to 44-1 after the powerplay.Following a 31-run stand, Hunter (19) advanced down Audrey Mazvishaya but was stumped in ninth over.

Prendergast tried to take advantage of a second life after being dropped earlier in her innings and powered her way to 28 before holing out at cover off the bowling of Kelis Ndlovu.At 68-3, Ireland's innings was in the balance, but several dropped catches saw them ride their luck.

A quickfire 30-run partnership between Laura Delany (22) and Eimear Richardson (14), followed by a 27-run partnership between Delany and Rebecca Stokell (26* off 12 balls) saw Ireland regain control.Stokell’s late cameo saw her smash 20 runs off the 18th over, as 37 runs flowed from the final three overs and Ireland finished on 137-6

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