Nepal emerge from the shadows

Nepal 234 for 8 (Vesawkar 82*) beat Ireland 174 (Morgan 86) by 60 runs

Nepal, who came within a whisker of beating Zimbabwe and causing an upset three days ago got it right this time to beat Ireland by 60 runs in their Group D match at the NCC ground.
Put into bat first Nepal reached 234 for 8 off 50 overs and then dismissed Ireland for 174 off 45.3 overs to earn their first points in the tournament. The win was all the more important for both sides because it meant avoiding a clash with a Test playing-country in the knockout round. In Nepal's case they will now meet Uganda in the Plate quarter-final, while Ireland will be up against either Pakistan or New Zealand.

"That's going to be a very difficult game especially for a team that has lost three games," said Ireland coach Brian O'Rourke. "This is a World Cup and there are no easy games. We had to qualify to get here. Maybe we had things too easy in the qualifying series. But it is difficult out here."

O'Rourke said that Ireland were beaten by a better team. "Yesterday, we narrowly lost against England by four runs but today 234 was also on, giving chase. Ultimately we were beaten by a better team. We put everything into yesterday's game and it took a lot out of us. We didn't get anything from it but in fairness to Nepal they surprised us.

"They are a very good side. The first six batters are very good and positive. They hit a lot of boundaries. That was probably the difference between the two teams. We didn't get off to a very positive start. We were always chasing five-six an over. Having said that, at 145 for 3 the game was in the balance. Twenty overs left less than a 100 to win but we just crumbled and the pressure from the Nepal bowlers did us in the end."

Ireland's innings was held together by their captain Eoin Morgan, who scored 86 off 107 balls (14 fours, 2 sixes), but the pressure got into him. Without much support coming from the other end he tried to accelerate the scoring rate and was eventually stumped.

O'Rourke said the story of the World Cup so far has been the spin bowlers. "If you can get through the first few overs with the opening bowlers and then use your spin attack it will be difficult to score runs off good balls. That's what our batsmen have to learn. They've got to learn to come down the crease and play the ball down the ground or sweep. They've got to do one or the other. They can't just pat dot balls because it just builds pressure and takes a lot out of the team."

Roy Dias, Nepal's coach, was quite happy that his team qualified to play in the Plate and not in the Super League because "for me it is better to play cricketers of our standard". He continued: "In the Plate the boys can enjoy because when you go to the top league you are going to meet some tough sides and maybe our guys might get a bit nervous. I am quite happy that we are in the plate quarters. The more cricket they play they will learn. I am a firm believer that technique is important and today they proved that they are good players."
"It is always good to win. Losing to England and Zimbabwe we can always say we lost to a Test-playing country, but Ireland was an important game for us to prove that we are in the same standard as the other countries. This is an important win because Ireland is a good side. They are a senior team in the ICC Intercontinental Cup. To beat a side like that is good for the team and the country."

Dias said that his team played good cricket in all three departments. "It was a good toss to lose. It was gloomy and maybe we would have put them in. But we had a good start and built a score. Then it was always difficult to chase a big total. I thought their captain Morgan batted very well. His wicket was the turning point of the game."

Kanishka Chaugai, Nepal's captain, dropped Morgan in the slips early in the innings and it looked a costly miss as the Ireland captain carried the attack to the bowlers keeping his team with a chance to win. But Chaugai was replaced on the field by Supersub Shashi Kesari who did the trick for his side by having the Irish captain stumped. Dias said he took his captain off the field because he was prone to getting cramps and that he wanted to keep him fit for the next game.

Dias said that his team had the potential and the ability to go and win the Plate championship. "Overall we are a balanced side. Most of the guys are batsmen who can bowl a bit. It is just that our fielding is slightly behind. Speed wise we are lacking in that direction because we don't have powerful arms."

Nepal's innings revolved around Sarad Vesawkar unbeaten knock of 82 not out off 116 balls (6 fours, 1 six) which won him the Man-of-the-Match award.