An inspired bowling and fielding display from Jersey proved too good for Nigeria as the Islanders romped to a comprehensive 6-wicket victory in the top-of-the-table clash in ICC WCL Division 6.
Bowling first in glorious sunshine at FB Fields, Jersey struck with the very first ball of the day, seamer Paul Connolly nicking off opener Onikoyi to captain Peter Gough at second slip. That moment set the tone as Nigeria’s top-order crumbled, Corne Bodenstein (2-18) joining Connolly (2-16) in doing the damage with the new ball and reducing the Nigerians to 36-4.
Nigerian wicket-keeper Ricky Sharma (53 off 110 balls, four 4s) battled hard for his side but wickets continued to fall regularly around him as Jersey’s bowling attack fired on all cylinders for the first time in this tournament.
Tom Minty bowled ten overs on the trot and picked up 2-31, including the prized wicket of Olatunji (9), who was dismissed by a stunning diving catch at mid-on from Connolly in the 11th over. Meanwhile left-armer Ben Stevens produced a man-of-the-match winning spell of spin to take three wickets for a meagre 13 runs in ten overs as the Nigerians were all out for 96 in 40.1 overs.
Jersey suffered a wobble at the start of their run-chase when they lost openers Gough (4) and Bisson (2) in quick succession, the former out pulling a short ball to mid-on and the latter cleaned up by fast bowler Oluseye Olympio, leaving them 7-2.
But an assured partnership between Stevens (19) and keeper Ed Farley (47*) steadied the ship, taking Jersey into the lunch interval at 42-2 with the job half done. Seamer Saheed Akolade (3-26 in 10 overs) impressed with the ball after lunch in picking up two more wickets but Farley saw Jersey home comfortably in the 23rd over, punching a full toss through the off-side to secure the 6-wicket win and extend the home side’s unbeaten run.
Jersey captain Peter Gough said, ‘We improved on our bowling a lot today. Corne bowled a great first spell and Plod (Paul Connolly) bowled well. Ben Stevens was also outstanding and the Nigerians really struggled to play him. Of the 40 overs we bowled we never had a poor spell and this is probably the best we’ve fielded all tournament.’
‘With the bat, the partnership between Stevo (Ben Stevens) and Farles (Ed Farley) was crucial. All of our batsmen are feeling confident and we’re feeling good going into the game against Argentina.’
Nigeria’s captain Adekunle Adegbola said, ‘We started badly today, losing three early wickets, but big credit to Ricky Sharma who occupied the crease to take us to 96. Jersey’s openers were fantastic though and their spinners also did a great job.
‘We have to win our next two games but by God’s grace we’ll be 2nd at the end of today and I still believe that we will meet Jersey in the final.’
Elsewhere Argentina kept their hopes of promotion alive with a thrilling last over 1-wicket win over Kuwait at Farmers Field.
Saud Qamar (83 off 99 balls, 13 4s, one 6) and captain Hisham Mirza (30 off 30 balls, five 4s, one 6) starred for Kuwait with the bat as they were 205 all out in 44.2 overs.
Lucas Paterlini and Gustin Casime were Argentina’s most successful bowlers, returning figures of 4-45 and 3-26 respectively, whilst wicket-keeper Alejandro Ferguson completed five dismissals.
Argentina’s run chase then went down to the wire but Martin Siri’s 59 from 76 balls, including eight boundaries, and Lucas Paterlini’s late 35 from 43 balls proved just about enough for the South Americans, with Casime (8 off 2 balls) hitting a boundary from the 3rd ball of the final over to squeeze his side over the line.
Argentina’s captain Esteban Macdermott said, ‘I thought we started well today and Lucas bowled excellently, putting their batsmen under a lot of pressure. We had Kuwait 120-8 but then their number 6 and number 10 batted really well to get them to 205.
‘We started positively with the bat but lost our way in the middle so it fell to the bowlers to get us over the line. We’re playing Jersey tomorrow and I don’t think it could come at a better time. Spirits are up so we’re ready for them.’
Kuwait’s manager Sudhakar Shetty said, ‘Initially we didn’t play well today but we fought back and brought the game to a close finish. Man-of-the-match Saud Qamar batted brilliantly with the tail and that’s a positive we can take out of this game.’
At Grainville, a brilliant hundred from captain Andrew Mansale kept Vanuatu in the hunt for promotion as they moved into 2nd with a 35-run victory over Bahrain.
Having been put into bat, Vanuatu lost early wickets and were 47-3 in the 15th over. But man-of-the-match Mansale (101 off 119 balls, six 4s) showed a cool head to lead his side out of trouble, notching up a crucial ton and taking Vanuatu to 244 in 49.4 overs. Mirza Baig topped the wickets tally for Bahrain with figures of 4-52.
Aby John’s 3-40 and Nalin Nipiko’s 3-32 then did the business for Vanuatu despite a battling knock from Shahzad Siddique (84 off 98 balls, ten 4s, one 6).
Vanuatu’s captain Mansale said, ‘It was a great performance and I’m so proud of the boys. Scoring a hundred today was a great honour for me, representing my country as captain and putting the side in a good position after our early collapse, and I’m so glad the other batsmen backed me up all the way through to the last over.’
Jersey meet Argentina tomorrow at Grainville, Vanuatu play Kuwait at FB Fields and Bahrain play Nigeria at Farmers Field. All matches start at 1100 BST.
Photographs: ICC/Barry Chambers