Ireland’s bowlers came to the rescue yesterday to avoid another embarrassing defeat in the quadrangular tournament in Oman.
After what skipper Andrew Balbirnie described as their “worst batting display of the competition”, it was the two changes in the Ireland side who led the bowling attack to restrict Nepal to 111 for nine and victory by 16 runs.
Andy McBrine and Barry McCarthy, came in for the rested Josh Little and Craig Young and both put their hands up for a place in the team to face UAE in Friday’s opening T20 World Cup qualifier.
McBrine, in his 100th game for Ireland, outbowled first choice slow bowler Simi Singh and was just one wicket away from celebrating the landmark with his 100th wicket, while McCarthy was the pick of the pace attack.
Left out in favour of Mark Adair for the first two games, McCarthy has put the pressure on the CIYMS all-rounder, starting his spell yesterday with a maiden and then taking a wicket his seventh ball. Indeed he had only three scoring shots off his bowling in his first three overs and although eight runs came off his last, the 17th of the innings, only McBrine was more economical.
Singh was entrusted with the penultimate over with Nepal needing 24 to win and four wickets in hand, but he turned figures of nought for 28 into two for 32, thanks to two catches on the long-on boundary, to leave Adair with 20 to defend in the last over.
On Sunday, against UAE, he was hit for 23 but this time, albeit with numbers nine and 10 in the middle, he conceded only three singles and added a second wicket.
The batting, however, remains brittle and unpredictable.
Paul Stirling was dismissed for the second day in a row in the first over, this time yorked, and when Gareth Delany drove back a return catch and Balbirnie missed with a horrible pull shot, Ireland were 31 for three. The last five times they had been in this peril, Ireland lost.
Curtis Campher, still batting at number four, changed roles to score a run-a-ball 20 but it needed peroxide-blond George Dockrell, at number eight, to hit 28 from 22 balls, with two fours a six, to get Ireland to a still woefully under-par 127.
SCORES: Ireland 127 (20 overs, G Dockrell 28, C Campher 20, A Balbirnie 19, L Tucker 15, S Getkate 14, A McBrine 11; Dipendra Airee 4-21) Nepal 111-9 (A McBrine 2-13, B McCarthy 2-16, M Adair 2-24, S Singh 2-32, C Campher 1-23). Ireland won by 16 runs.