Eagles bounce back with Nepal victory 

Bernard Scholtz won the player of the match award against Nepal on 21 February 2024. Photo: ICC

The Richelieu Namibian Eagles produced a great all-round effort to beat Nepal by two wickets in Kirtipur yesterday to go to the top of the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 log. 

After winning the toss and sending Nepal in to bat, Namibia dismissed the home side for 168 runs, with spin bowlers Bernard Scholtz and Nicol Loftie-Eaton grabbing four wickets each. 

Namibia then managed to chase down the target although there were some nervous moments with wickets falling regularly, before JJ Smit and Scholtz took them to victory with 10 overs and two wickets in hand. 

Nepal got off to a steady start with Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh putting on 38 runs for the first wicket before Scholtz made a double strike, as he dismissed Bhurtel (18) and Anil Sah (0) within three balls. Jack Brassel soon also dismissed Dev Khanal for a duck, to leave them struggling at 43 for three wickets, but Sheikh and Kushal Malla started Nepal’s revival with a 57-run partnership for the fourth wicket. 

Scholtz once again broke the partnership, dismissing Sheikh lbw for a top score 58 which came off 64 balls and included eight fours and one six, and when Rohit Paudel (0) and Malla (36) were dismissed shortly after they had stumbled to 124/6. 

Further down the order Bhim Sharki added 26 and KC Karan 12 but Scholtz and Loftie-Eaton continued to rake in the wickets before they were all out for 168.

Scholtz took four wickets for 31 runs off 10 overs to win the man of the match award, while Loftie-Eaton took 4/34.

In reply, Namibia got off to a rocky start as JP Kotze (3) and Niko Davin (8) were both dismissed cheaply, but Michael van Lingen and Gerhard Erasmus revived their fortunes with a 52-run partnership before Van Lingen was dismissed for 31 off 34 balls (4×4, 2×6). 

Jan Frylinck went cheaply, for four runs, but Erasmus batted superbly, reaching his half century with a reverse sweep four off Bhurtel, which also brought up Namibia’s century in the 22nd over. 

Bhurtel immediately gained revenge though when he dismissed Erasmus the next ball, going for a hook, but brilliantly caught on the boundary by KC Karan. Erasmus scored 52 off only 56 balls, including eight fours and two sixes, and with the total at 103/5 after 22 overs it was still anyone’s game.

Smit anchors the innings

Nepal turned up the pressure with some more wickets as Loftie-Eaton (5) and Zane Green (6) went cheaply, but an unusually subdued JJ Smit anchored Namibia’s innings with a stubborn 34 not out, which came off 66 balls and included only one four and two sixes. He received valuable assistance from RubenTrumpelmann (16) and Bernard Scholtz (8 not out) as Namibia reached 172/8 with 10 overs to spare. 

It was a fine response by the Eagles after they lost their previous match to The Netherlands by seven wickets on Monday, and put them on top of the tri-nations log. 

Namibia now lead the log on four points from two matches, followed by Nepal and The Netherlands who are both on two points. Namibia also have the best nett run rate of 0.153, compared to Nepal’s 0.227 and The Netherlands’ -0.666. 

Namibia captain Erasmus praised his spin duo Scholtz and Loftie-Eaton after the match. 

“We played in bits and pieces, but there were some good skills from the guys  and another consistent performance again from Bernard Scholtz and Nicol Loftie-Eaton making some good impact, so we pulled it all together in the end,” he said, adding that Scholtz was a worthy winner of the player of the match award. 

“He probably doesn’t always get the plaudits that he deserves, but he is so consistent and economical – his two for 23s don’t always get him the man of the match award but thats why I’m so glad for him to get it today.”

Erasmus said they need to be more clinical in their finishing. 

“I felt it was a bit of a different wicket from the others that we played on before, so I thought we played well to get the win today. We’d like to do it more clinically though and if you get a partnership going, then there’s no need for you to hand it over to the opposition and I feel that we probably do that a fair amount too often,” he said. 

Namibia next take on The Netherlands in their second encounter tomorrow and Erasmus said they are well prepared. 

“I think we’ve got some good experience on this ground – we’ve played a lot of one day internationals (ODIs) here so I think we probably know best how to win it. I think there are also some special performances still in story for us, especially with the batters, so hopefully that can be in the next one.”

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