Dockrell and Adair in the wickets as Ireland beat Nepal
Bowlers take three wickets each as Ireland make up for batting collapse
Paul Stirling made 59 in Ireland’s win over Nepal in Muscat on Wednesday. Photograph: Cricket Ireland
For the fourth match in a row, Ireland captain Gary Wilson won the toss – this time choosing to bat first. Despite losing the in-form Kevin O’Brien early, Paul Stirling (59) and Andy Balbirnie (38) got Ireland off to a blistering start. The pair put on 88 runs in 59 balls, punishing anything short and playing lofted shots down the ground when the Nepalese bowlers over-pitched.
Looking set for a big total at 95 for one in the 12th over, a collapse saw Ireland ominously lose seven wickets for 29 runs – the Nepal bowling attack using variation of pace and length to great effect. The 19-year-old leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane led the way with two for 22, matched by medium-pacer Abinash Bohara who also finished with a tight two for 22.
The Irish total was given a late boost via a cameo innings by Stuart Thompson who scored an unbeaten 21 from 11 balls, which included two big sixes, but the final score of 145 for eight was well below what would have been expected after the rapid start.
In response, Nepal’s top order batters made steady and confident progress early with Ishan Pandey (22), captain Paras Khadka (25) and Aarif Sheikh (26) setting a solid platform. With the score at 73 for one in the 10th over, and the Nepalese looking comfortable, a combination of excellent fielding and tight, spin bowling in the middle overs by Dockrell and Simi Singh pulled the Nepal batters back and began to build pressure.
As the run rate required grew steadily higher, wickets began to fall. Dockrell’s economical bowling was rewarded with wickets (three for 23) and Mark Adair again showed his knack of taking important scalps and finished with ( three for 22), and also effected an athletic run out off his own bowling. In support, Irish fans will be pleased to once again see 22-year old leg-spinner Gareth Delany bowl confidently, taking two for 30 from his four overs.
In the end, the crucial late runs scored by Thompson at the end of the Irish innings proved the difference, and Nepal were all out in their final over for 132.
While the Irish batting did not fire as hoped, head coach Graham Ford will be pleased that his bowlers stood up under pressure, and the fielding and catching was almost without blemish. Such experience will be important heading into the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier in Abu Dhabi, which starts on October 18th where they will play Hong Kong in the first group stage match.
The Irish squad now has a rest day after completing their matches in the Pentangular T20I Series in Oman. They then move to Abu Dhabi on Thursday ahead of the start of the Qualifier.
The current series currently sees Ireland sitting at the top of the table, however they need some favourable results elsewhere to claim the series title.
At Al Amerat Cricket Ground, Muscat: Ireland 145-8 (20 ovs) (P Stirling 59; S Lamichhane 2-22, A Bohara 2-22), Nepal 132 (19.5 ovs) (A Sheikh 26; M Adair 3-22, G Dockrell 3-23). Ireland won by 13 runs