Zimbabwe defeat opens World Cup door for Afghanistan and Ireland

Zimbabwe lost a World Cup qualifying thriller by just three runs to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, allowing Afghanistan and Ireland to clash in a winner-takes-all tie for a place in the 2019 finals.

Chasing a rain-reduced target of 230 off 40 overs, Zimbabwe needed six off the last ball to win the Super Six match and join already-qualified West Indies in the 2019 showpiece.

But Craig Ervine was only able to take two off man-of-the-match Mohammad Naveed (3-40) and the home side's hopes were dashed, breaking the hearts of the 12,000-capacity crowd.

"We'll pick ourselves up soon, but right now it doesn't feel too good," said Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer.

"We lost wickets in crucial periods. Taking nothing away from they UAE, they bowled and fielded excellently."

The UAE, who had no chance of qualifying for the finals, made 235-7 off 47.5 overs with Rameez Shazhad hitting a top score of 59.

After a delay for rain at the Harare Sports Club, Zimbabwe were set a DLS target of 230 off 40 overs but despite a run-a-ball 80 from Sean Williams, the home side never recovered from a poor start which saw them slip to 45-3 at one stage.

"It's a great achievement for us, winning against a Test nation," said UAE captain Rohan Mustafa.

On Friday, Afghanistan and Ireland will meet at the same venue with the winner guaranteed a place in the 2019 finals in England and Wales.

The match will be Niall O'Brien's 100th ODI for Ireland while Rashid Khan will be looking to claim four wickets to become the quickest bowler to 100 wickets in the 50-over format.

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