Oman Quadrangular T20I Series, Ireland vs Nepal: Brilliant bowling display leads Ireland to victory
An exceptional bowling display saved Ireland’s blushes today as the Men in Green eased past Nepal by 16 runs in the final match of the Oman T20 Quadrangular Series at the Al Almerat Stadium in Muscat.
Ireland Men v Nepal Men, Oman T20 Quadrangular Series, Muscat, 14 February 2022
Ireland 127 (20 overs: G Dockrell 28, C Campher 20; D Airee 4-21)
Nepal 111-9 (20 overs: D Airee 28; A McBrine 2-13, B McCarthy 2-15)
Result - Ireland Men won by 16 runs
All five Irish bowlers used today claimed a wicket, but the stand-out performances were the two players who were brought into the squad today – Barry McCarthy and Andy McBrine. McCarthy started his day with the ball delivering a maiden over which stopped the early Nepalese progress, then claimed a wicket off the first ball of his second over to begin to turn the momentum of the game. The Pembroke seamer looked at the top of his game as he delivered with wickets with economy, finishing with 2-15 from his four overs.
McBrine, who arrived in Oman only two days ago after recovering from a Covid infection, was playing in his 100th international (all formats) today, and also stepped up when his side needed him most. Defending a modest total, McBrine was called upon to stem the run flow during the middle overs, which he did with aplomb. His four overs went for just 13 runs, and took two wickets in the process – a tally that took his to 99 international wickets (all formats) for his country, and demonstrated his increasing effectiveness in this format.
Mark Adair (2-24), Simi Singh (2-32) and Curtis Campher (1-23) all contributed to the win, but pleasingly for skipper Andrew Balbirnie there was a noticeable improvement in the field after yesterday’s below par performance.
Earlier in the day, Nepal won the toss and elected to bowl first, and reaped immediate rewards with the prize wicket of Paul Stirling in the first over bowled for 2. Balbirnie and Gareth Delany sought to counter-attack, putting on 25 off the next 22 balls - but Delany hit a full-blooded shot straight back to the bowler, and Balbirnie was bowled by a ball that kept low, and Ireland had slumped to 31-3 after 5 overs.
Campher (20), Shane Getkate (14) and Lorcan Tucker (15) all got starts, but all fell to good catches by a Nepalese side looking sharp in the field. Tucker’s dismissal was particularly eye-catching – after once more looking assured at the crease in his 14-ball stay, he play a gentle on-drive from Player of the Match Dipendra Airee back wide of the bowler who dived full-stretch to his right and claimed a full-stretch catch.
George Dockrell (28) looked the most likely to capitalise on his start, hitting two fours and a big six over extra cover, but offered a straightforward catch to Kushal Bhurtel off Nepal captain Sandeep Lamichhane to leave Ireland 11-0-8 in the 18th over.
While Ireland’s tail-enders added 17 from the last 17 balls, to finish all out for 127 off the last ball of the innings, the first innings plaudits went to the Nepal’s bowlers – especially Airee who finished with 4-21 from his four overs.
Nepal will be disappointed that they could not chase down 128, but Ireland will be buoyed by their bowling display today.
However, after the match captain Balbirnie said about the Irish batting:
“It was probably our worst batting display in the competition – it was a good wicket and we weren’t too disappointed to be batting first. We’ll need to have a look at ourselves before the Qualifier starts on Friday – but the fight we showed with the ball against a good Nepal team is a confidence boost for us.
“McCarthy and McBrine played brilliantly today. That’s what we want to build – a competitive squad where when someone comes in they make it difficult for the player who went out to get back in. That’s a healthy position to be in, it’ll be a tough selection meeting ahead of the first game in the Qualifier, but that’s a good thing to have.”
Ireland starts their ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier campaign on Friday against the UAE at 2pm (local time) or 10am (GMT) at the same venue.