Nepal no match for Ireland seamers
Ireland 54 for 2 (Stirling 29) beat Nepal 53 (Pun 20, K O'Brien 3-8, Thompson 3-10) by eight wickets
The raucous chants of "Ne - PAL! Ne - PAL!" from traveling fans that came out to support their beloved team in one of Group A's most anticipated showdowns were quickly silenced by Ireland's seam attack who ripped through the Nepal line-up, dismissing them for 53 in an eight-wicket demolition at Stormont.
It was Nepal's lowest total in T20 cricket with the previous worst coming in a loss to Netherlands on July 1 when they were bowled out for 69, though they made 68 for 9 in a match reduced to 16 overs against Afghanistan in December 2011. Nepal's 53 is lowest total ever at World Twenty20 Qualifier and second lowest in all T20 Internationals behind Netherlands 39 vs Sri Lanka at 2014 World Twenty20.
Ireland made the most of the toss on a wet day, sending Nepal in. After a confident start to reach 18 off two overs, Alex Cusack's wicket maiden in the third started the procession back to the pavilion. Cusack claimed Anil Mandal with a leading edge to Kevin O'Brien at mid off for 2.
John Mooney's fantastic tournament continued with a wicket each in the fourth and sixth overs to peg Nepal back by the end of the Powerplay. Pradeep Airee was trapped in front missing a flick for a golden duck while Sagar Pun fell into a trap set at short cover, driving hard to Stuart Thompson at knee height for 20.
Gyanendra Malla was dropped down to five for this match in a strategic move to keep him back for Ireland's spinners, who never came into the attack. He pulled tamely off O'Brien to give Thompson another catch at midwicket in the circle for 2. Paras Khadka was the only player besides Pun to reach double-figures, making 10 before Craig Young knocked back his off stump to make it 38 for 5 in the ninth.
O'Brien claimed Sharad Vesawkar, swishing outside off for a thin edge behind to Gary Wilson, and bowled Binod Bhandari through the gate on consecutive balls in the 12th but his hat-trick delivery to Basant Regmi was left alone wide of off stump. O'Brien beat out Cusack's 1 for 7 and Mooney's 2 for 7 for the most economical spell of the day, finishing with 3 for 8 in a Man-of-the-Match performance.
Thompson wiped out the tail with three wickets in four balls to wrap up the innings. Rajesh Pulami was pinned on the crease for 6 to end the 13th while Regmi feathered an edge behind to start the 15th. Shakti Gauchan defended another hat-trick ball but glanced a flick down the leg side that Wilson snapped up with a low diving catch to end the innings in just 14.3 overs.
Rain delayed the inevitable during the innings break with a 52-minute hold up before the start of the second innings. Niall O'Brien chopped the slingy pace of Sompal Kami on to his stumps nine balls into the chase to make it 4 for 1 but Paul Stirling punished Kami in the fourth with a disdainful flick over fine leg for six followed by a pair of drives through the off side to the cover rope.
Stirling fell for 29 with scores level trying to end the match with a flick through the leg side to Kami. O'Brien sealed the victory with a single one ball later to achieve a win with 12 overs to spare, giving Ireland a massive net run rate boost should that tiebreaker come into play by the end of the group stage.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna