Ireland’s George Dockrell and Mark Adair claimed three wickets apiece to lead their side to a 13-run victory against Nepal today.
For the fourth match in a row, Ireland captain Gary Wilson won the toss – this time choosing to bat first at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Muscat.
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 95-1 in the 12th over, a collapse saw Ireland ominously lose 7-29 – the Nepal bowling attack using variation of pace and length to great effect. The 19-year old leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane leading the way with 2-22, matched by medium-pacer Abinash Bohara who also finished with a tight 2-22.
The Irish total was given a late boost via a cameo innings by Stuart Thompson who scored 21* from 11 balls, which included two big sixes, but the final score of 145-8 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 73-1 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 (3-23) and Mark Adair again showed his knack of taking important scalps and finished with (3-22), 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 2-30 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.
The current series currently sees Ireland sitting at the top of the table, but they need some favourable results elsewhere to claim the series title.