Nepal and USA win again as Jersey bounce back
If the first day's matches in the World Cricket League Division 5 tournament in Kathmandu were all won and lost by fairly wide margins, Sunday's second round provided two taut contests which could have gone either way.
At the Engineering Campus Ground in Lalitpur two of yesterday's winners, Nepal and Singapore fought out a low-scoring battle which eventually went the hosts' way by just 16 runs.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Nepal found runs at a premium against a disciplined Singaporean attack, and at 74 for five they were in danger of being dismissed for a really low total. They were rescued by a stand between Sharad Vesawkar and Basant Regmi, and after Vesawkar was trapped in front by Jackie Manoj Kumar, Regmi went on to complete a crucial half-century.
He was not out, the last of three victims for Dharmichand Mulewa, until three deliveries from the end of the innings, having made 54 from 61 balls with five boundaries, and it was largely thanks to him that his side was able to reach 180 for nine.
Singapore began chasing this apparently moderate target confidently enough, but they suffered a setback when Sanjam Regmi claimed two wickets to reduce them to 35 for two. They continued to lose wickets at regular intervals, and when top-scorer Anish Paraam, who had made a fighting 79-ball 41, was eighth out with the total on 145, 36 were needed off 37 balls with only two wickets in hand.
Pramodh Raja and Mohamed Shoib got the score up to 164, leaving 17 to make from the last three overs, but then Sanjam Regmi came back to remove Shoib and Manoj Kumar within the space of four deliveries to give Nepal the win and keep them on course for promotion to Division 4.
Runs came much more freely at the Army School Ground, where the USA batsmen again posted the highest score of the day, this time against Bahrain.
Carl Wright and Orlando Baker gave them a good start with an opening stand of 69 before both were dismissed by slow left-armer Qamar Saeed, but the key partnership was that for the third wicket between Steven Massiah and Lennox Cush; they put on 134 together in 27 overs and ensured that the Americans would set Bahrain a substantial target.
Cush's 91 came from 90 balls, with 11 fours and two sixes, while Massiah was more circumspect, taking 91 deliveries for his 67. There was again a flurry of wickets in the final overs as the USA sought to maximise their advantage, and Zafar Zaheer collected three for 48 in the process. But the Americans finished with 273 for six.
The Bahraini batsmen soon made it clear that they were up for the challenge, opener Imran Sajjad hitting an aggressive 77-ball 75, including eight fours and two sixes, and Abdul Majeed contributing a somewhat more deliberate 47.
But it was a big ask, and 70 were needed from the last ten overs. The turning point came when Adil Hanif, who had made a solid 46, was caught behind off Kevin Darlington with 47 needed off 34 balls, and although the tail did their best to bridge the gap they found the task beyond them, the last wicket falling in the penultimate over with 20 still required.
There were two wickets each for Darlington, Timroy Allen, Baker, and Man of the Match Cush.
Fiji's batsmen did better against Jersey than they had against the USA on the opening day, but even so they proved no match for their opponents.
Winning the toss and electing to bat, Fiji reached 34 before they lost their first wicket, but were eventually all out for 122 in 36.2 overs. Sekove Ravoka, Tikovanualevu Kida and Iniasi Cakacaka all managed to score 25, but no-one was able to go further as the Jersey bowlers shared the wickets among them.
Jersey openers Matthew Hague and Dean Morrison wasted little time in chasing this target, and although Morrison was out for a 53-ball 52 with 15 still needed, Hague and Peter Gough completed the task in 20.3 overs, Man of the Match Hague ending on 52 not out.
Monday is a rest day, but on Tuesday the USA will attempt to retain their unbeaten record when they take on Singapore at the Engineering Campus. Nepal will start as strong favourites against Fiji at Tribhuvan University, but the most absorbing encounter may be at the Army School, where Jersey's hopes of staying in touch with the leaders will depend on their beating Bahrain, who have started this tournament with two defeats.