14 July 2015
PREVIEW: Ireland aims to consolidate top spot
PNG, Hong Kong want to make up for points lost to rain; USA takes on Jersey in its search of first win
William Porterfield and Kevin O'Brien after the win.
Ireland will be aiming to retain its top spot in ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015 Group A table when it takes on Papua New Guinea at the Civil Service Cricket Club in Belfast on Wednesday (July 15).
After two less-than-perfect victories in the tournament, defending champion Ireland put in a dominant display against Nepal in Stormont on Monday and is now firmly at the top of Group A with six points from three matches.
It beat Namibia by seven wickets in its opening match, and followed that up with a 46-run victory over USA. But it was the eight wicket win over Nepal in its third match that was particularly impressive.
The Ireland medium-pacers, led by Stuart Thompson and Kevin O'Brien, bowled Nepal out for 53 in 14.2 overs. John Mooney, Alex Cusack and Craig Young also managed to hit the right areas of the pitch, making life uncomfortable for Nepal’s batsmen.
After such a dominating performance, the only danger for William Porterfield-led Ireland could be complacency.
“PNG are a dangerous side as we know from playing them in a warm-up game before the last competition,” said Porterfield. “We know how dangerous they can be so we’re not going to take them lightly. Every side in this competition has match-winners so you’ve got to nullify them, first and foremost. If we can bowl like that again we will put them under pressure.”
Meanwhile, PNG had to share points with Hong Kong after its second match got washed out in Bready on Monday. Its opening game against Jersey was more satisfactory. PNG openers Tony Ura and Lega Siaka were involved in a stand of 44 off 28 balls, which set the platform for the rest of the innings and helped PNG get to 145 for 9. Nathan Vanua was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3 for 19.
Assad Vala is a destructive batsman on his day, while newcomer Loa Nou has been in sparkling form with the ball; it will be interesting to see if Nou can maintain the blistering start he has had in his international career.
With three points from two matches, PNG is placed a rung below Ireland and can be expected to field the same side that secured the 24-run win over Jersey.
Ireland: William Porterfield (captain), Andrew Balbirnie, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Tyrone Kane, Andrew McBrine, Graeme McCarter, John Mooney, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Stuart Poynter, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.
Papua New Guinea: Jack Vare (captain), Charles Amini, Sese Bau, John Boge Reva, Mahuru Dai, Willie Gavera, Loa Nou, Kila Pala, Pipi Raho, Lega Siaka, Chad Soper, Tony Ura, Vani Vagi, Assadollah Vala, Norman Vanua.
Jersey v USA
In the second Group A encounter on Wednesday, Jersey, led by Peter Gough, will take on United States of America at the Bready Cricket Club.
Jersey, a tournament debutant, rode on half-centuries from Edward Farley and Peter Gough, the captain, to cruise to a memorable nine-wicket win over Hong Kong on Saturday. The openers put on a 112-run stand to overhaul Hong Kong’s 153 in 17.2 overs. Among the bowlers, Ben Steven, the left-arm spinner, impressed with figures of 2 for 22 in three overs.
But Jersey took a beating in its second match, thanks to a good bowling and fielding performance from PNG. Only Jonty Jenner (44) provided real resistance as Jersey managed just 121 in reply to PNG’s 145 for 9.
USA will be keen to change its winless record in the tournament so far. Although its first two losses came against heavyweights Nepal and Ireland, the third loss, against Namibia by seven wickets, must have been demoralising.
Barring Akeem Dodson, none of USA’s batsmen could make substantial contributions against Namibia. Dodson’s 49 took USA to 113. Timil Patel, the legspinner, who was impressive against Ireland, continued his good form, but with little support from the other bowlers, he was unable to defend the paltry score.
Bringing in debutants Alex Amsterdam and Nicholas Standford hasn’t quite clicked and USA might consider going with more experienced heads in its encounter against Jersey.
Jersey: Peter Gough (captain), Corey Bisson, Dom Blampied, Corne Bodenstein, Paul Connolly, Ed Farley, Anthony Kay, Jonty Jenner, Ben Kynman, Tommy Minty, Rhys Palmer, Chuggy Perchard, Callum Rabet, Ben Stevens, Nat Watkins.
USA: Muhammad Ghous (captain), Alex Amsterdam, Fahad Babar, Adil Bhatti, Akeem Dodson, Karan Ganesh, Naseer Jamali, Japen Patel, Mrunal Patel, Timil Patel, Hammad Shahid, Jasdeep Singh, Nicholas Stanford, Timothy Surujbally, Shiva Vashishat.
Hong Kong v Nepal
Hong Kong will be keen to get a win on the board when it takes on Nepal at the Civil Service Cricket Club in Belfast, in the third Group A match of the day.
Hong Kong suffered a defeat at the hands of Jersey in its opening game. After putting up 153 for 6, Hong Kong was caught off guard by Jersey’s openers. Aside from Tanwir Afzal and Irfan Ahmed, the other bowlers went for plenty of runs. Left-arm spinner Anas Khan, fresh from an impressive performance in the warm-up game, was given only one over after going for 14 runs.
Hong Kong was frustrated by rain in its second match and had to share points with PNG, and it will be itching to get back to business on Wednesday.
It may bring in a different spin option against Nepal, with even Nadeem Ahmed, the left-arm spinner, going for 25 runs in two overs. A few misfields allowed Jersey some easy boundaries, and Hong Kong will be eager to prove it was just an anomaly with an improved show against Nepal.
Nepal has had an up and down tournament so far, starting with an impressive six-wicket win against USA, followed by a washed out match against Namibia and a disappointing eight-wicket loss to a strong Ireland outfit.
Nepal was a bit unlucky enough to encounter an Ireland side that was focussed, determined and ruthless and, having being invited to bat first, it slumped to 53 all out in less than 15 overs. It would want to treat the loss as nothing more than a blip on the radar.
Hong Kong: Tanwir Afzal (captain), Irfan Ahmed, Nadeem Ahmed, Haseeb Amjad, Jamie Atkinson, Waqas Barkat, Mark Chapman, Aizaz Khan, Anas Khan, Nizakat Khan, Giacomo Lamplough, Ehsan Nawaz, Babar Hayat, Anshuman Rath, Kinchit Shah.